Lightning season on edge after losing overtime to an avalanche in Game 4

TAMPA – John Cooper rarely struggles to find the right words, but the Lightning coach took to the podium late Wednesday and waged an apparent battle with his emotions while gathering his thoughts.

His team’s dream of making history is now hanging by a thread, Lightning on the verge of losing the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-2 loss in overtime to an avalanche in Game 4 at Amalie Arena.

Avalanche leads the three-on-one series. Game five on Friday in Denver.

Team Lightning had their chances of winning, dominating the avalanche early while driving fast, but they couldn’t keep the avalanche at bay. They struggled with injuries in overtime, playing with only five healthy defensive men a large part of the night.

Moments after watching Colorado celebrate after striker Nazem Qadri’s goal with 7:58 left to overtime, Cooper was dumbfounded.

Lightning coach John Cooper addresses the media after losing 3-2 in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

Cooper didn’t provide details of his point, but Lightning thought my destiny goal was scored with too many Colorado men on the ice. Screenshots showed that six Colorado skaters were on the ice when Kadri approached the goal before beating Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevsky. A video angle showed striker Nathan McKinnon slowly heading back to the bench after Kadri jumped off the boards.

Despite wearing the bull’s-eye that comes with the three peat chase, Lightning still played with a chip on his shoulder and never made excuses.

“It’s very difficult to get into this position,” said Captain Stephen Stamkos. “And then when you finally have your back against the wall, it’s the hardest mountain to climb. There’s nothing to lose now. We have to go out and play next season’s game.

“We know it’s going to be tough. We know they’re a structural team out there, but we’re not going to quit. We’ve gone too far and the guys have sacrificed a lot to get to this position. So we’re going to regroup here and win a game on the road.”

The Lightning side have faced a similar ordeal – they fell behind Toronto this year in the first round 3-2 in the series – but they never fell 3-1.

“After a 3-1 loss, we’ve never seen that before,” said defender Victor Hedmann, who put Lightning ahead with a two-goal backhand in the middle of the second half. “But if there is one thing I know about this group it is that we respond well to adversity.

“We are a resilient group. We believe in what we have. We will take it game by game. There are ups and downs in qualifying, especially in a final like this. This is hard to swallow.”

Referees Wes McCauley (4), top left, and assistant referee Steve Barton (59) look for the puck jammed in the net as Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy (88), Defender Ryan McDonagh (27), Defender Mikhail Sergachev (98) and Avalanche right .  Suite Valery Neshushkin (13) see.
Referees Wes McCauley (4), top left, and assistant referee Steve Barton (59) look for the puck jammed in the net as Lightning goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy (88), Defender Ryan McDonagh (27), Defender Mikhail Sergachev (98) and Avalanche right . Suite Valery Neshushkin (13) see. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
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The Lightning made his best start in the series, dominating an avalanche. While they beat Colorado 17-4 in the first half—including 15-2 in 5v5 situations—they were knocked out by just 1-0 ahead of goalkeeper Darcy Comber, who came back into the net after a second-half equalizer. in game 3.

Vasilevskiy was impressive, particularly during his overtime stint in which he made 10 saves, including stopping striker Logan O’Connor on a breakup.

The avalanche seemed to gain momentum as the match went on, especially with Lightning playing with only five healthy defenders when Erik Cernak left due to injury.

Qadri’s last turn was only 11 seconds long, indicating that he was the last player on the ice. He got a step up on defender Mikhail Sergechev, who clocked 32:50 icy time in the game, before beating Vasilevsky along his hurdle side.

The disc got stuck inside the net at the top of the back, which led to some delayed reactions.

“I didn’t see her coming in,” said Avalanche coach Jared Bednar. “I saw (Kadri) kind of break and cut that seam. Then he made a great move to kind of break (the disk) inside the stick. … the replay shows it’s going in. I didn’t hear any confusion.”

A statement from NHL Hockey Operations said, “Too many men on the ice is a judgment that can be made by any of the four officials on the ice. … When discussing the winning goal, each of the four officials advised that they had not seen too many men on the ice. … Ice in the play.

The Lightning faces the biggest challenge in leading them to three cups in a row.

“We can’t just sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” Stamkus said. “That was a tough game. Guys sacrifice a lot of their bodies, which is painful now. But we have to go there, win the hockey game and bring it back here.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected]. Follow EddieintheYard.

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