Avalanche beat Tampa Bay in overtime to win one Cup win

TAMPA, Florida. Friday night can’t come soon enough, Avalanche fans.

Bring your homemade trophies and badges, put on your favorite player’s jersey, and wave the provided pom poms because your team is 60 minutes away from their first Stanley Cup in 21 years.

And they will need every ounce of energy the Ball Arena can hold to help them reach the top of the NHL mountain and defeat the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Sadly in the first period and trailing in the third period on Wednesday night, the Avalanche took a 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 in front of a stunned Lightning crowd. Nazem Kadri scored the winning goal at 12:02 of an extra session dominated by Avs.

History shows just how much control the Avalanche has – 3-1 teams in the best-of-seven era have won 90.6% of series.

The Avalanche’s first premium overtime chances came in the first nine minutes – a deflected shot from Devon Toews hit the post, Logan O’Connor stopped the lead and Bo Byram shot over the bar. In the first 10 minutes, the Aves outplayed Tampa Bay 8–3 (not counting two posts), and they were rewarded when Kadri made the best shot in his first action since injury in Game 3 of the Edmonton series.

The Avalanche rallied twice from a one-goal deficit: in Game 2, Nathan McKinnon knocked down a power play marker, and in Game 3, Andrew Colliano missed his shin with a Niko Sturm shot. Translation: Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy, who completely got rid of seven goals in the second game last week, was back in the game and stopped everything that was not redirected.

The beginning of the Avalanche was a fiasco.

At 36 seconds into the game, the Lightning scored a goal when Eric Cernak’s shot was stopped by Darcy Kemper, but Kemper’s mask was dislodged and eventually fell to the ice when Anthony Cirelli, thrown off the top of the crease, hit the net. There was no whistle in the game after Kemper lost his headgear due to a scoring chance.

The first period was a quagmire for the usually fast and hard-shooting Avalanche. The Lightning’s defense increased their activity a few notches, moving into the pass and shoot lanes (12 shots blocked) to prevent the Aws from gaining momentum in the offensive zone.

The Avs had one shot in the first 10 minutes.

Aws scored twice in the first 16 minutes.

The Aves scored three times in the first 18 minutes.

And the Avs had four shots in the first period (two shorthanded).

The camper wasn’t a problem. Among his stops was Nick Paul on the breakaway. Nathan McKinnon? Non-factor. Qadri? Explicitly capped at the start of his first game in 18 days. General mood? Reeling.

The Lightning played with the dedication that is needed when losing in a series. Cernak limped after a penalty after blocking a shot. Cirelli rushed to the locker room after he was injured at the end. And Steven Stamkos went all out for blocking in the third period and got up slowly. Everyone is back in the game.

Meanwhile, the Avs woke up from their sleep in the second period… not for long.

The Avalanche equalized as their power play was redeemed by an interference penalty from Victor Hedman. Mikko Rantanen’s shot from the left circle was deflected by Vasilevsky, but bounced off MacKinnon’s skate, rebounded off Vasilevsky’s skate and hit the net. It was McKinnon’s first goal of the series.

The Lightning again took the lead by 10:42 seconds. Hedman dragged him into the Avs zone, circled Valery Nichushkin with a stick and scored a backhand goal from the left side of the faceoff. No excuses for Kemper – he was as soft as the shameful ice of the Amalia Arena. As much as he rewarded coach Jared Bednar for his confidence by getting called up in Game 4 after being benched in Game 3, Kemper didn’t pay up front in this game.

%d bloggers like this: