Following two straight blowouts within the 2022 Stanley Cup Last, Recreation 4 was an absolute thriller between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The sport was deadlocked at 2-2 after regulation. Then at 12:02 of time beyond regulation, Nazem Kadri scored the profitable objective — sure, the identical Nazem Kadri who was taking part in in his first sport again after breaking a thumb within the Western Convention finals. (Within the aftermath, there was some query as to the legality of the objective.)
What classes did we be taught from this one? And what does all of it imply waiting for Recreation 5 on Friday with the Avs one win away from a Stanley Cup?
Kadri’s huge comeback
The writing was on the wall after Kadri took the morning skate on Wednesday, even when Avs coach Jared Bednar would not affirm it on the time: Kadri was a go for Recreation 4.
The ahead hadn’t performed since being boarded by Evander Kane and sustaining a damaged thumb in Recreation 3 of the Western Convention finals on June 4. He began skating once more shortly after surgical procedure, and Bednar mentioned Kadri’s inclusion within the lineup once more relied on ache administration greater than something.
Bednar shuffled his strains accordingly to accommodate Kadri’s return, transferring Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin off Nathan MacKinnon’s flanks and onto Kadri’s. Landeskog can take left-side faceoffs for Kadri, and he is an enormous physique like Nichushkin, so they’d the flexibility to insulate Kadri in a number of methods.
It was clear early on how far Kadri was from 100%. He did not need to — or could not — shoot the puck together with his ordinary drive, and was overpassing to compensate, with decreased accuracy. Whether or not it was nerves or his thumb holding Kadri again, he nonetheless tried to make an affect each shift both by throwing his physique or simply getting in lanes.
When he grabbed the marker that might give Colorado a 3-1 sequence lead, it solely appeared becoming. Kadri left all of it on the road, and the shot he did take — certainly one of solely two within the sport — supplied greater than what Colorado may have hoped for in his first sport again. — Kristen Shilton
Nazem Kadri reacts to scoring the game-winning objective in time beyond regulation to provide the Avalanche a 3-1 sequence lead within the Stanley Cup Last.
The Lightning did not take benefit once they had all of the momentum within the first interval of Recreation 4. They did not take benefit on their energy performs. The longer the sport went, the extra the remainder benefit the Avalanche had earlier than the Stanley Cup Last would come into play. By the point Kadri scored the sport winner, the Lightning had been in pure counterpunch mode with the Avalanche carrying a lot of the play.
Now they face an almost insurmountable problem. Groups with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven maintain an all-time sequence file of 298-31 (.906), together with a 35-1 (.972) mark within the finals and a 2-1 clip this postseason. They are going again to Colorado, the place the line-matching benefits they’d at dwelling disappear.
It will take the guts of a champion for the Lightning to three-peat after this loss. — Greg Wyshynski
Colorado could not have seen that begin coming. Darcy Kuemper definitely could not.
It could take Tampa Bay solely 36 seconds to go up 1-0 over the Avalanche on the weirdest objective. The Lightning had good offensive zone strain early when Erik Cernak fired a shot on Kuemper that knocked the goaltender’s masks proper off. Kuemper then could not get throughout to cease Anthony Cirelli’s ensuing shot that put Tampa Bay on the board.
Usually when a goalie’s masks comes off, there’s an instantaneous whistle, however on this case, as a result of there was an ongoing scoring likelihood, play was allowed to proceed.
Anthony Cirelli scores simply 36 seconds into Recreation 4 to provide the Lightning a 1-0 benefit.
After the early objective, Tampa Bay continued to dominate. Kuemper was below siege because the Lightning outshot Colorado 17-4 by means of 20 minutes, however he stored the rating at 1-0. Nathan MacKinnon lastly knotted it up 5:17 into the second interval when a Mikko Rantanen move deflected in off his skate, giving him his first objective of the sequence.
Victor Hedman put Tampa Bay again forward halfway by means of the second, earlier than Andrew Cogliano tied it at 2 off a Nico Sturm feed early within the third.
It was the sort of back-and-forth affair we did not see within the earlier two video games on this sequence (7-0 and 6-2 remaining scores). This night time was extra strategic after a messy first interval. The momentum swings had been actual, and weathered properly by either side. It appeared like Colorado and Tampa Bay had been lastly settling in, that they’d figured one another out. In any case that, it was solely proper that the sport wanted time beyond regulation to discover a winner.
So what does that imply for what’s forward? Are we in for a tightly contested sequence from right here on out? Or are there extra blowouts to come back? — Shilton
Avs’ particular groups domination continues
No, it wasn’t the prettiest power-play objective, because the puck bounced off MacKinnon’s skate and previous Andrei Vasilevskiy early within the second interval. However it was one other power-play objective for the Avalanche, who’ve dominated on particular groups on this sequence.
Colorado is now 6-for-13 with the person benefit, a preposterously good conversion price of 46.2%. The Lightning entered Recreation 4 with a 77.9% penalty kill price, and simply 67.9% on dwelling ice.
“They’ve a superb energy play they usually feed off it. It provides them power. However we’ve got a superb PK, and finally I do know the bounces will begin going our method sooner or later, too. I am not involved,” coach Jon Cooper mentioned.
That mentioned, it is perhaps time to specific some concern in regards to the Lightning energy play. The Avalanche have killed off 13 of 14 energy performs within the sequence. With the high-scoring expertise Tampa Bay has on its power-play unit, that is unbelievable. Cooper has mentioned the significance of particular groups lies in “killing them off on the proper time.” Within the two tightest video games of this sequence — Video games 1 and 4 — one power-play objective from the Lightning would have made all of the distinction. — Wyshynski
Whereas on the ability play, Mikko Rantanen’s shot deflects off Nathan MacKinnon’s skate and into the online because the Avalanche tie the rating within the second interval.
Want for pace
Colorado took a 2-0 lead on this sequence due to its pace. There have been different components concerned, however that was the large one.
Of their first two video games at dwelling, the Avalanche outskated Tampa Bay everywhere in the ice and had been notably fast by means of the impartial zone attending to — and taking away — pucks. The Avalanche’s pace assault brutalized the Lightning.
Properly, that pace wilted within the Florida warmth.
Colorado regarded nearer to skating by means of sand for the primary half of Recreation 4. The Avs’ tenacity and forechecking had stalled. Was it as a result of the Lightning had been transferring faster at dwelling, versus at elevation in Denver? Or had one thing dramatically modified for Colorado?
The Avalanche discovered their legs extra within the third interval and time beyond regulation. There was a extra noticeable soar to their sport.
The problem getting there may be price monitoring now. Enjoying quick and up ice has been a trademark of Colorado’s success. It is troublesome to generate these juicy alternatives off the push with out it. The Lightning had been certain to make changes, however Colorado can do the identical and add again a few of that lacking tempo. It will be particularly key now that Tampa Bay has nothing to lose. — Shilton
Hedman’s huge transfer
Tuesday night time was a bizarre one for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. It was the night time earlier than Recreation 4 of the Stanley Cup Last, they usually had been wearing fits on the NHL Awards dinner, held at a Tampa brewery.
Hedman obtained all dolled up simply to look at Makar win the Norris Trophy because the NHL’s finest defenseman. It was the sixth time Hedman was nominated for the award. He has gained it solely as soon as. So there was most likely some satisfaction for Hedman within the second interval when he scored the sort of objective that Norris Trophy candidacies are fabricated from: dangling by means of the impartial zone, then the Avalanche protection, earlier than floating a shot previous Kuemper’s blocker facet for a 2-1 lead at 10:42 of the interval.
Hedman had a robust, lively night time for the Lightning. It might need been the most effective sport he has performed within the 2022 playoffs so far as making a distinction on each ends of the ice.
“You do not have a look at the purpose sheet right now of yr, you have a look at the win sheet,” he mentioned. “It does not matter the way you get it, you simply need to get it performed.” — Wyshynski
Victor Hedman skates to the facet of the online and sends a backhand shot into the objective to provide the Lightning a 2-1 lead within the second interval.
Relying on Kuemper
Kuemper’s confidence may have been misplaced alongside together with his masks on that first objective.
Colorado’s starter was pulled halfway by means of Recreation 3 for permitting 5 targets on 22 pictures, and whereas Bednar gave him the nod for Recreation 4, Tampa Bay’s fluky first objective may have gone proper to Kuemper’s head. As an alternative, it appeared to impress the netminder. He was the one factor retaining Colorado within the sport over the primary 20 minutes, when the Avalanche had been outshot 17-4. He made a notably good save on Steven Stamkos and was sharp on the Lightning’s power-play push.
Kuemper stored on retaining pucks out till MacKinnon lastly put one in off his skate for the Avs on the ability play. To see the sport tied was a win in itself at that time, contemplating the Avalanche had been being badly outplayed at 5-on-5.
Hedman’s objective after that? On a stoppable backhand? That is on Kuemper. He has been spectacularly inconsistent within the playoffs. And naturally, Kuemper resumed making key stops as Colorado clawed again with a fourth-line objective to tie the sport.
Bednar has praised Kuemper’s potential to regroup and are available up huge for the Avalanche when it mattered most. Like Forrest Gump’s proverbial field of sweets, although, you by no means know what you are gonna get out of him.
Make no mistake: Kuemper is Colorado’s finest reply in internet (no disrespect to Pavel Francouz). He ended up being fairly good total in a 37-save effort. It is simply laborious not to wonder if his streakiness could make his crew skittish, contemplating all the pieces at stake. — Shilton