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Nazem Kadri, after missing more than two weeks with an injury, lifted the Colorado Avalanche to an important Game 4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, and bring the team one step closer to a Stanley Cup title.
Kadri somehow got his shot underneath Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s arm. The puck then got stuck inside the top of the net, leading to a delayed signal that the goal was actually scored. Avalanche players pointed out the puck was lodged in the top of the net and the goal was finalized.
“That was a huge win, Kadri told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan after the win. “We stuck with it. Resilient effort. Able to get it done in the OT.”
Kadri said he wasn’t exactly sure the goal went in.
“Not really. I mean, I tried to just make a little move there and go far side and I’m assuming that’s where it went. I don’t know if it found a hole,” he said. “It was a bit of a delayed reaction. I thought he (Vasilevskiy) had made the save for a second. Next thing you know, people started sprinting toward me. It’s a good feeling.”
Kadri had missed 18 days after suffering an injury in the Western Conference final against the Edmonton Oilers but came up big when Colorado needed him the most.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. So, I figured I’d stop waiting and try to join the parties. I’m just grateful I’m able to be in this position. With this group of guys, couldn’t ‘t have written a better story,” he said.
Anthony Cirelli got the scoring for Tampa Bay started early in the first period. He scored 36 seconds into the game in what was a controversial goal because Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s helmet came off with the puck in front of him.
NHL rules state: “When a goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask and his team has control of the puck, play shall be stopped immediately to allow the goalkeeper the opportunity to regain his helmet and/or face mark. When the opposing team has control of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there’s is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity. This stoppage of play must be made by the Referee. Why play is stopped because the goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask, the ensuing face-off shall take place at one of the defending team’s end zone face-off spots.”
Colorado didn’t challenge the score and the Lightning took an early 1-0 lead and kept it into the second period.
But 5:17 into the second, the Avalanche tied the game with Nathan MacKinnon’s 12th goal of the postseason. It came on a power play. Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen each picked up their 20th assist on the score.
About 5 minutes later, Victor Hedman somehow got a wobbly puck past Kuemper and put the Lightning back up 2-1 going into the third period.
Andrew Cogliano’s third goal of the postseason was the equalizer 2:53 into the third period. And just like that, Game 4 was tied up and just as much of a nail-biter as Game 1 was.
In the overtime period, Vasilevskiy and Kuemper were up for the task. Colorado rookie Logan O’Connor broke free and got a good chance to score but it was Vasilevskiy who stonewalled him with less than 15 minutes left in the overtime period.
With about 11:15 left, Vasilevskiy shut down more of Colorado’s offense. Bo Byram hit the post on one of his shots from him and then Vasilevskiy stopped subsequent one-timer attempt. Kuemper would then follow up by knocking down a Brandon Hagel shot.
But then Kadri’s shot ended the game.
Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves and Kuemper finished with 38 saves and had an assist on Kadri’s goal.
Game 5 is set for Friday night back in Denver at 8 pm ET. If Colorado wins, they will be Stanley Cup champions.