The match came to a dead end with a score of 2-2 after the match ended. Then at 12:02 in overtime, Nazim Qadri scored the winning goal – yes, the same Nazim Qadri who was playing in his first game after breaking his thumb in the Western Conference Finals.
What lessons have we learned from this? And what does all this looking forward to Friday’s game five mean with Avs one winning the Stanley Cup?
The return of my great destiny
The writing was on the wall after Kadri took the morning bobsleigh on Wednesday, even if Avs coach Jared Bednar wouldn’t confirm it at the time: It was my destiny to go for game four.
The forward has not played since Evander Kane rode him and fractured his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on June 4. He started skating again soon after surgery, and Bednar said Qadri’s inclusion in the squad again depends on pain management. More than anything.
Bednar shuffled his lines accordingly to accommodate Kadri’s return, and moved Gabriel Landskog and Valery Neshushkin away from Nathan Makinnon’s wings and into Kadri’s area. Landeskog could take encounters on Kadri’s left side, a large body like Nichushkin’s, so they had the ability to isolate Kadri in multiple ways.
It was clear early on how far my Qadri was from 100%. He didn’t want—or couldn’t—shoot the disc with his usual power, and he skipped to compensate, at low accuracy. Whether it was because of nerves or his thumb holding my destiny back, he still tried to make an impact in every shift either by throwing his body or just getting into the aisles.
When he grabbed the mark that would give Colorado a 3-1 lead in the series, it just seemed to fit. Qadri left everything on the line, and his shot – one of only two in the game – delivered more than Colorado could have hoped for returning for the first game. – Kristen Shelton
Nazim Qadri reacts to scoring the winning goal in overtime to give Avalanche a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
He didn’t take advantage of the Lightning when they had all the momentum in the first period of Game 4. They didn’t take advantage of their strong play. The longer the game was, the more advantage the rest had that avalanche had before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. By the time Kadri scored the game winner, Lightning was on the opposite-batting position completely with the avalanche carrying a lot of play.
Now they face an almost impossible challenge. Teams that advanced 3-1 in the top seven of seven hold an all-time series record of 298-31 (.906), including a 35-1 (.972) mark in the finals and a 2-1 clip this postseason. They will return to Colorado, where the advantages of matching the lines they had at home are gone.
The Lightning Hero’s heart would take three losses after this loss. – Greg and Shinsky
Colorado couldn’t see this beginning coming. Darcy Comber definitely couldn’t.
It would take Tampa Bay just 36 seconds to advance 1-0 over the avalanche on the strangest goal. Lightning had good offensive area pressure early on when Erik Cernak fired a shot at Kuemper that instantly knocked out the goalkeeper’s mask. Then Kuemper couldn’t cross to stop Anthony Cerelli’s shot that ensued which put Tampa Bay on the board.
Usually when the goalkeeper’s mask is taken off, there is an instant whistle, but in this case, since there is a continuous opportunity to score, play is allowed to continue.
Anthony Cirelli scored just 36 seconds in the fourth game to give the Lightning 1-0.
After the early goal, Tampa Bay continued to dominate. Kuemper was under siege as Lightning beat Colorado 17-4 in 20 minutes, but kept the score at 1-0. Nathan McKinnon finally managed to score at 5:17 in the second half when Mikko Rantanen’s pass veered away from his skate, giving him his first goal in the series.
Victor Hedman put Tampa Bay ahead again midway through the second half, before Andrew Cogliano equalized by 2 from Nico Storm’s feed early in the third.
It was a kind of back-and-forth that we didn’t see in the previous two games in this series (final score 7-0, 6-2). This night was more strategic after a chaotic first period. The momentum fluctuations were real, and he weathered them well on both sides. It looked as if Colorado and Tampa Bay had finally settled down, and they had spotted each other. After all, it was only true that the game needed extra time to find the winner.
So what does that mean for what’s to come? Are we on a hotly contested streak from now on? Or are there more explosions to come? – Shelton
Avs special teams domination continues
No, it wasn’t the prettiest goal in the power game, as the puck bounced off McKinnon’s boot and passed Andrei Vasilevsky at the start of the second half. But it was another force-playing target for Avalanche, which dominated special teams in the series.
Colorado is now 6 for 13 with a man advantage, an unreasonably good conversion rate of 46.2%. Lightning entered Game 4 with a 77.9% kill penalty rate, and only 67.9% on home ice.
“They have good power and they feed on it. It gives them energy. But we have good PK, and eventually I know the rebounds will start to go our way at some point as well. I’m not worried,” coach John Cooper said.
However, it might be time to express some concern about the lightning force play. The avalanche killed 13 of the 14 power plays in the series. With Tampa Bay’s highly-score talent and her PU, it’s unbelievable. The importance of special teams, Cooper said, is to “kill them at the right time.” In the narrowest of two games in the series – Games 1 and 4 – a single Power-play goal from Lightning could have made all the difference. – Wyshynski
Playing on the power, Mikko Rantanen’s shot flew off Nathan McKinnon’s skate into the net as an avalanche tied the score in the second half.
need for speed
Colorado led 2-0 in this series because of its speed. There were other factors involved, but this was the biggest factor.
In their first two home games, the Tampa Bay avalanche swept all over the ice and was particularly quick across the neutral zone to get to and take out the pucks. The swift attack caused the avalanche with the brutality of lightning.
Well, that speed withered in the Florida heat.
Colorado looked more like sandboarding in the first half of Game 4. The Avs’ stability and bouncing stopped. Was it because the lightning was moving faster around the house, as opposed to rising in Denver? Or has something changed dramatically for Colorado?
The avalanche found their legs more in the third period and overtime. There was a more noticeable jump in their game.
The difficulty of getting there is worth watching now. Quick play on the ice has been a hallmark of Colorado’s success. It’s hard to generate these exciting opportunities out of a rush without them. Lightning had to make adjustments, but Colorado could do the same and add some of that lost speed. It will be especially important now that Tampa Bay has nothing to lose. – Shelton
Heydmann’s big move
Tuesday night was a strange night for Tampa Bay Lightning defensive man Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche defender Cal McCar. It was the night before Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final, and they were in suits at the NHL Awards Dinner, which was held at the Tampa Brewery.
Hedman got it all just by watching McCar win the Norris Award as the best defender in the NHL. This was the sixth time that Hedman had been nominated for the award. He only won it once. So perhaps there was some satisfaction for Hedman in the second half when he scored the kind of goal that made the Norris Cup nominations: dangling across the neutral zone, then an avalanche defense, before floating a shot past Quimper’s blocking side for a 2-1 lead in 10:42 of the period .
Hedman had a vigorous, vigorous night for the Lightning. It was perhaps the best match he played in the 2022 qualifiers as much as it made a difference on both ends of the ice.
“You don’t look at the scorecard at this time of year, you look at the winning score,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you get it, you just want to get it done.” – Wyshynski
Victor Hedman skates to the side of the net and sends a backhand into the net to give Lightning a 2-1 lead in the second half.
Rely on Kuember
You could have lost Kuemper’s confidence along with his mask on that first target.
The Colorado starter was pulled midway through Game 3 because he allowed five from 22 shots, and while Bednar gave him the nod for Game 4, Tampa Bay’s bluffing goal could have gone straight to Comber’s head. Instead, it seemed to motivate netminder. It was the only thing that kept Colorado in the game during the first 20 minutes, when the avalanche edged out 17-4. He remarkably saved Stephen Stamkos and was sharp in pushing Lightning to power.
Kuemper kept throwing away the pucks until MacKinnon finally put one of his sleds down for Avs in a power play. Seeing the match equalized was a win in itself at that point, considering the avalanche was beaten so poorly at 5-on-5.
Hedman’s goal then? A backhand can be stopped? This is on Kuemper. He was amazingly inconsistent in the playoffs. And, of course, Kuemper resumed the hiatus as Colorado returned with a fourth-line goal to tie the game.
Bednar praised Kuemper’s ability to regroup and go head-to-head to tackle the avalanche when it mattered most. Like the proverbial box of chocolates in Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re going to get out of it.
Make no mistake: Kuemper is the best Colorado answer in the net (no respect for Pavel Francouz). He ended up being pretty good overall at trying 37 fends off. It’s hard not to wonder if his plan could make his team choppy, considering everything is at stake. – Shelton