Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final was a nail-biting affair between the Colorado Avs and the Bolts.
After regulation, the game was tied at 2-2. The same Nazem Kadri who broke his thumb in the Western Conference finals scored the winning goal in the overtime period. There was a question regarding the legality of the goal after the game.
What lessons did this teach us? Looking ahead to Friday with the Avs one win away from a Stanley Cup is what it all means.
The writing was on the wall after Kadri took the morning skate, even if Bednar wouldn't confirm it at the time.
The forward broke his thumb in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals and hadn't played since. Bednar said that Kadri's inclusion in the lineup was dependent on pain management more than anything.
Bednar moved Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin off Nathan MacKinnon's flanks and onto Kadri's. Landeskog has the ability to take left-side faceoffs for Kadri, so they had the ability to insulate him.
Early on, it was obvious that Kadri was from 100%. He didn't want to shoot the puck with his usual force, and was over passing to make up for it. Whether it was nerves or his thumb, he still tried to make an impact by throwing his body or just getting in lanes.
It only made sense when he grabbed the marker that would give Colorado the series lead. Kadri left it all on the line, and the shot he did take, one of only two in the game, provided more than what Colorado could have hoped for.
Kadri's overtime goal gave the Avs a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bolts didn't take advantage of their good fortune in the first period of the game. They did not exploit their power plays. Before the Stanley Cup Final, the rest advantage the Avalanche had would come into play. By the time Kadri scored the game winning goal, the Lightning were in full counterpunch mode.
They face a huge challenge. The all-time series record for teams with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven is, with a 35-1 mark in the finals and a 2-1 record this season. The line-matching advantages they had at home are gone.
After this loss, it will take the heart of a champion for the Lightning to repeat.
Colorado didn't know that start would come. It wasn't possible for Darcy Kuemper.
36 seconds was all it took for the Bolts to go up by one over the Avs. The goaltender's mask was knocked off early in the game when Cernak shot a shot at Kuemper. Anthony Cirelli's shot put the Bay on the board.
Normally when a goalie's mask comes off, there's an immediate whistle, but in this case, because there was an ongoing scoring chance, play continued.
The Lightning scored in the first minute of Game 4 to take a 2-0 lead.
The bay continued to dominate after the goal. The Lightning outshot Colorado 17-4 through the first 20 minutes, but Kuemper was able to keep the score at one. Nathan MacKinnon got his first goal of the series when a Mikko Rantanen pass went off his skate and into the net.
After Andrew Cogliano tied it at 2 early in the third, Victor Hedman gave the Bolts the lead.
In the previous two games, we didn't see the kind of back-and-forth affair we saw in this one. After a chaotic first period, this night was more strategic. Both sides were able to weather the momentum swings. It seemed like Colorado and Florida had figured each other out. It was only right that the game had to go to overtime.
What does that say about the future? Are there going to be a lot of competition from here on out? Do you think there's more to come?
It wasn't the prettiest power-play goal, as the puck bounced off MacKinnon's skate and past Vasilevskiy, but it was still a goal. The Avs have dominated on special teams in this series.
Colorado is now 6-for-13 with the man advantage and has a conversion rate of 42%. The penalty kill rate was 77.9% and the home ice percentage was 67.9%.
They have a great power play. It makes them feel good. The bounces will start going our way at some point, but we have a good PK. Jon Cooper said he was not worried.
It might be time to raise some concerns about the power play. In the series, 13 of 14 power plays have been killed by the Avs. That's unbelievable because of the high- scoring talent on the power play. The importance of special teams lies in being killed off at the right time, according to Cooper. One power-play goal from the Lightning in the first and fourth games would have made the difference.
Mikko Rantanen's shot goes off Nathan MacKinnon's skate and into the net as the Avs tie the score in the second period.
Colorado has taken a 2-0 lead in the series. There were other factors involved, but that was the main factor.
The Avs outskated the Bolts all over the ice and were particularly quick through the neutral zone getting to the pucks. The lightning was attacked by the speed attack.
That speed waned in the heat.
There are two teams in the Stanley Cup final. All seven games can be watched on ABC, Disney+, and the app.
The first game was a 4-3 overtime win by the Avs.
Game 2: Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3: Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
Game 4: Avalanche 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
Game 5: June 24, 8 p.m. ET (@ COL)
Game 6*: June 26, 8 p.m. ET (@ TB)
Game 7*: June 28, 8 p.m. ET (@ COL)