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Nazem Kadri, after missing more than two weeks with injury, lifted the Colorado Avalanche to an important Game 4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 and pulled the team closer to a Stanley Cup title.
Kadri somehow got his shot under the arm of Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The puck then got stuck in the top of the net, resulting in a delayed signal that the goal had indeed been scored. The Avalanche players pointed out that the puck had lodged in the top of the net and that the goal had been finalized.
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“It was a huge win,” Kadri told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan after the win. “We left it there. Resilient effort. Able to do it in the OT.”
Kadri said he wasn’t exactly sure the goal went in.
“Not really. I mean, I tried to make a little move there and go far and I guess that’s where it happened. I don’t know if he found a hole,” he said. “It was a bit of a delayed reaction. I thought he (Vasilevskiy) made the save for a second. Next thing you know, people started sprinting towards me. It’s a good feeling. “
Kadri had missed 18 days after being injured in the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, but he stepped up when Colorado needed him most.
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“I’ve been waiting for this all my life. So, I decided to stop waiting and try to join the parties. I’m just grateful to be in this position. With this group of guys, I could I haven’t written a better story,” he said.
Anthony Cirelli got the score for Tampa Bay early in the first period. He scored 36 seconds into the game in what was a controversial goal because Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s helmet fell off with the puck in front of him.
NHL rules state, “When a goaltender has lost his helmet and/or face mask and his team has control of the puck, play must be stopped immediately to allow the goaltender to recover his helmet and/or face mark When the opposing team has control of the puck, play should only be stopped if there is no immediate and imminent scoring opportunity. must be done by the referee.Why play is stopped because the goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or mask, the ensuing face-off will take place at one of the face-off spots of the defending team’s end zone.”
Colorado didn’t dispute the score, and the Lightning quickly took a 1-0 lead and held it in the second period.
But 5:17 into the second, the Avalanche tied the game with Nathan MacKinnon’s 12th playoff goal. It came on a power play. Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen each had their 20th assists on the score.
About 5 minutes later, Victor Hedman somehow got a wobbly puck past Kuemper and put the Lightning up 2-1 early in the third period.
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Andrew Cogliano’s third playoff goal tied the game at 2:53 of the third period. And just like that, Game 4 was tied together and just as biting as Game 1.
In the extra period, Vasilevskiy and Kuemper were up for the challenge. Colorado rookie Logan O’Connor escaped and had a good chance to score, but it was Vasilevskiy who blocked him with less than 15 minutes left in overtime.
With about 11:15 to play, Vasilevskiy put an end to Colorado’s offense. Bo Byram hit the post on one of his shots and then Vasilevskiy stopped the next point attempt. Kuemper would then follow by knocking down a shot from Brandon Hagel.
But Kadri’s shot ended the game.
Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves and Kuemper finished with 38 saves and got an assist on Kadri’s goal.
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Game 5 is scheduled for Friday night in Denver at 8 p.m. ET. If Colorado wins, they will be Stanley Cup champions.