The Colorado Avalanche came into Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning looking to split the road games and have a chance for the Cup at home. They did just that, with a 3-2 overtime win on the road at Amalie Arena Wednesday night.
It was a win showered with resilience, controversy, and unknowingness as the night concluded. The Avs managed to fight through it all, and now have the chance to make history once again heading into the game of the year.
The Avs started out on the wrong foot immediately. Just 36 seconds in, Darcy Kuemper lost his mask after a shot from the circle. However, the play wasn’t stopped as a scoring play was imminent. Anthony Cirelli made the scoring play worth it by crashing into an empty net.
Besides Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri sending some shots wide, the Avs had absolutely nothing going forward. 13 minutes in, the Avs only had one shot on goal. Tampa was shutting them down and looking to get better as Darren Helm took an interference penalty.
The penalty would eventually be killed off, and somehow the Avs had some of their best chances a man down. Logan O’Connor led a couple of rushes down the ice that gave Andrei Vasilevskiy some work to do. Otherwise, it was a terrible period.
The second period started on a better foot for the Avs as the first and third lines had good starts to the period. They got their chance after Victor Hedman took an interference penalty. The Avs power-play continued to shine, as Nathan MacKinnon got his first Stanley Cup Final goal in an abnormal way to tie it at one.
The momentum would be immediately killed as Bowen Byram took a hooking penalty. While it was killed off, just moments afterward, Hedman stormed down the ice and beat Jack Johnson and Kuemper in a bad way to get the lead back.
The Avs had a chance later as Steven Stamkos took a hooking penalty himself, but the Avs couldn’t capitalize. The period ended out with Cirelli injuring himself falling down and hurting his hand/arm area. It helped the Avs as it ended what was a three-minute shift for Cale Makar and Josh Manson.
The Avs started perfectly when Andrew Cogliano managed to take a Nico Sturm rebound-deflected shot past Vasilevskiy. WIth 17:07 left, it was all to play for as we were tied for the second time.
The Avs built off of it, with Landeskog nearly getting another one in off of a goalmouth scramble but couldn’t quite get it done. Nichushkin also almost pulled off a wrap-around, while at the other end, Nikita Kucherov hit the crossbar loudly. It was going to be tense from here on out. Nothing would come of it, and after some tense moments for both sides, we went to OT.
It was all Avalanche in the overtime period. Chances from Nichuhskin, O’Connor, Toews, Landeskog, and Byram all were either stopped by Vasilevskiy or found the iron. Byram’s chance specifically hit the bar after leaving Vasilevskiy out to dry and was a heartbreaker when he didn’t go in.
After the ice scrape halfway through the period, the Avs continued. Finally, it would be Nazem Kadri playing hero after he beat Vasilevskiy under the blocker. It got stuck in the back bar of the goal, unknown whether or not it went in at first glance. It finally was noticed by the referees, and the man returning from injury won it and gave the Avs a 3-2 win and 3-1 series lead.
All eyes were on Kuemper after he was pulled from his abysmal Game 3 performance. He did pretty well, considering the fact that he let in a goal just 36 seconds into the game after losing his mask. He stood up on his head as Tampa poured on shot after shot. While he didn’t have much to do in overtime, he stole one tonight.
The team overall rebounded well too. It took a while to get them going after a bad first period. It was a better second period, and then a great third period. They kept up with Tampa Bay after they were the better team throughout the majority of the 60 minutes. Once overtime came around, the Avs outran the Lightning and showed no mercy.
Tonight’s performance was one of such resilience. They stole this one, and are now in prime position. The Cup will be in the building folks! They have a chance to make history. Another performance like that, with a rowdy home crowd behind them, it might be destiny in the end. Denver would go into overdrive if they can pull it off. For now, everyone do your superstitious activities, relax and be ready for the build-up for a wild upcoming Friday night.
We go back to Colorado for Game 5 Friday night. With the Avs up 3-1, they can win the Cup on home ice in a rambunctious way. Puck drop is at 6:00 pm MT on ABC.