Avs a win away from the Cup: What we learned in the Game 4 OT thriller

NHL

Following two straight blowouts within the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, Game 4 was an absolute thriller between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning.

The sport was deadlocked at 2-2 after regulation. Then at 12:02 of time beyond regulation, Nazem Kadri scored the game-winning aim — sure, the identical Nazem Kadri who was taking part in in his first recreation again after breaking his thumb within the Western Convention finals.

What classes did we be taught from this one? And what does all of it imply waiting for Sport 5 on Friday with the Avs one win away from a Stanley Cup?

Kadri’s huge comeback

The writing was on the wall after Kadri took morning skate on Wednesday, even when Bednar would not affirm it on the time: Kadri was a go for Sport 4. And he was the time beyond regulation hero at that.

The ahead hadn’t performed since being boarded by Evander Kane and breaking his thumb in Sport 3 of the Western Convention finals on June 4. He began skating once more shortly after surgical procedure, and Bednar stated Kadri’s inclusion within the lineup once more relied on ache administration greater than something.

Bednar shuffled his traces accordingly to accommodate Kadri’s return, shifting Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin off Nathan MacKinnon‘s flanks and onto Kadri’s. Landeskog can take left-side faceoffs for Kadri, and he is an enormous physique like Nichushkin, so they may insulate Kadri in additional methods than one.

It was nonetheless rapidly clear how far Kadri was from 100%. He did not wish to — or could not — shoot the puck along with his regular power, and was overpassing to compensate, with decreased accuracy. Whether or not it was nerves or his thumb holding Kadri again, he nonetheless tried to make an influence each shift both by throwing his physique or simply getting in lanes.

When he grabbed the marker that may give Colorado a 3-1 lead within the Cup Closing it solely felt becoming. Kadri left all of it on the road, and the shot he did take — considered one of solely two within the recreation — was all the things Colorado may have hoped for. — Kristen Shilton


Lightning struck

The Lightning did not take benefit once they had all of the momentum within the first interval of Sport 4. They did not take benefit on their energy performs. The longer the sport went, the extra the remaining benefit the Avalanche had earlier than the Stanley Cup Closing would come into play. By the point Kadri scored the game-winner, the Lightning had been in pure counterpunch mode with the Avalanche carrying a lot of the play.

Now they face a virtually insurmountable problem. Groups with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven maintain an all-time collection file of 298-31 (.906), together with a 2-1 (.667) clip in 2022 and a 35-1 (.972) mark within the Stanley Cup Closing. They are going again to Colorado the place the line-matching benefits that they had at house disappear.

It’s going to take the center of a champion for the Lightning to three-peat after this loss. — Greg Wyshynski


Even Steven

Colorado could not have seen that begin coming. Darcy Kuemper actually could not.

It could take Tampa Bay solely 36 seconds to go up 1-0 over the Avalanche on the weirdest aim. The Lightning had good offensive zone strain early when Erik Cernak fired a shot on Kuemper that knocked the goaltender’s masks proper off. Kuemper then could not get throughout to cease Anthony Cirelli‘s ensuing play that put Tampa Bay on the board.

Usually when a goalie’s masks comes off there’s an instantaneous whistle, however on this case as a result of there was an ongoing scoring probability, play was allowed to proceed.

After the early aim, Tampa Bay continued to dominate. Kuemper was below siege because the Lightning outshot Colorado 17-4 by way of 20 minutes, however he stored the rating at 1-0. Nathan MacKinnon lastly helped the goalie out along with his first aim of the Cup Closing, from a Mikko Rantanen cross that went off of MacKinnon’s skate. Both method, the rating was knotted.

Victor Hedman gave Tampa Bay again a 2-1 lead they’d take into the third. Nico Sturm arrange Andrew Cogliano early within the third to tie the sport once more.

It was the type of back-and-forth affair we have not seen but on this collection. What we’ve witnessed is whole domination (in 7-0 and 6-2 finals) and one wild time beyond regulation ender. This evening was extra strategic after a messy first interval. The momentum swings had been actual, and weathered properly by either side. It felt like Colorado and Tampa Bay had been lastly settled in, that they’d figured each other out. In any case that, it was solely proper that the sport wanted time beyond regulation to discover a winner.

So, what does that imply for what’s forward? Are we in for a tightly contested collection from right here? Or was this the outlier and there are extra blow-outs to come back? — Shilton


Avs’ particular groups domination continues

No, it wasn’t the prettiest power-play aim, because the puck bounced off of Nathan MacKinnon’s skate behind Andrei Vasilevskiy at 5:17 into the second interval. Nevertheless it was one other power-play aim for the Avalanche, who’ve dominated on particular groups on this collection.

After Sport 4, Colorado is now 6-for-13 with the person benefit, a preposterously good conversion fee of 46.2%. The Lightning entered the sport with a 77.9% penalty kill fee general and simply 67.9% on house ice.

“They’ve a great energy play and so they feed off it. It provides them vitality. However we’ve a great PK and finally I do know the bounces will begin going our method sooner or later, too. I am not involved,” coach Jon Cooper stated.

That stated, it may be time for some concern in regards to the Lightning energy play. The Avalanche have killed off 13 of 14 energy performs within the collection. With the high-scoring expertise Tampa Bay has on its power-play unit, that is unbelievable. Cooper has talked about his penalty as being about “killing them off on the proper time.” Within the two tightest video games of this collection — Sport 1 and Sport 4 — one power-play aim from the Lightning would have made all of the distinction. — Wyshynski


Want for velocity

Colorado took a 2-0 lead on this collection due to its velocity. There have been different components concerned, however that was an enormous one.

Of their first two video games at house the Avalanche outskated Tampa Bay all around the ice and had been significantly fast by way of the impartial zone attending to — and taking away — pucks. The Avalache’s quick-twitch rush assault brutalized the Lightning.

Properly, that velocity wilted within the Florida warmth.

Colorado seemed nearer to skating by way of sand for the primary half of Sport 4. Their tenacity and forechecking had stalled. Was it that the Lightning had been shifting faster outdoors Denver’s elevation? Or had one thing dramatically modified for Colorado?

The Avalanche discovered their legs extra within the third interval and time beyond regulation. There was a extra noticeable soar to their recreation.

The problem getting there may be value monitoring now. Enjoying quick and up ice has been a trademark of Colorado’s success. It is tough to generate these juicy alternatives off the push with out it. The Lightning had been sure to make changes, however Colorado can do the identical, and add again a few of that lacking tempo. It’s going to be particularly key now that Tampa Bay has nothing to lose. — Shilton


Hedman’s huge transfer

Final evening was a bizarre evening for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. It was the evening earlier than Sport 4 of the Stanley Cup Closing and so they had been wearing fits on the NHL Awards dinner, held at a neighborhood Tampa brewery.

Hedman acquired all dolled up simply to observe Makar win the Norris Trophy because the NHL’s finest defenseman. It was the sixth time Hedman was nominated for the award. He is solely received it as soon as. So there was most likely some matter of satisfaction for Hedman within the second interval when he scored the type of aim that Norris Trophy candidacies are product of: Dangling by way of the impartial zone, then the Avalanche protection, earlier than floating a shot previous Kuemper’s blocker facet for a 2-1 lead at 10:42 of the interval.

Hedman had a powerful, lively evening for the Lightning. It may need been the perfect recreation he is performed within the 2022 playoffs so far as making a distinction on each ends of the ice.

“You do not have a look at the purpose sheet at the moment of 12 months, you have a look at the win sheet,” he stated. “It does not matter the way you get it, you simply wish to get it carried out.” — Wyshynski


Relying on Kuemper

Kuemper’s confidence may have been misplaced alongside along with his masks on that first aim.

Colorado’s starter was pulled halfway by way of Sport 3 for permitting 5 targets on 22 photographs, and whereas Jared Bednar gave him the nod for Sport 4, Tampa Bay’s fluky first rating may have gone proper to Kuemper’s head. As an alternative, it appeared to provoke the netminder. He was the one factor holding Colorado within the first 20 minutes when the Avalanche had been outshot 17-4. He made a notably good save on Steven Stamkos and was sharp on the Lightning’s power-play push.

Kuemper stored on conserving pucks out till MacKinnon lastly put one in off his skate for the Avs on the facility play. To see the sport tied was a win in itself at that time, contemplating the Avalanche had been being badly outplayed at 5-on-5.

Victor Hedman’s aim after that? On a stoppable backhand? That is on Kuemper. He has been spectacularly inconsistent within the playoffs. And naturally, Kuemper resumed making key stops as Colorado clawed again with a fourth-line aim to tie the sport.

Bednar has praised Kuemper’s capacity to regroup and are available up huge for the Avalanche when it mattered most. Like Forrest Gump’s proverbial field of goodies although, you by no means know what you are gonna get out of him.

Make no mistake, Kuemper is Colorado’s finest reply in web (no disrespect to Pavel Francouz). He ended up being fairly good general in a 37-save effort. It is simply onerous to not marvel if his streakiness could make the group skittish — provided that all the things is on the road on this Cup Closing. — Shilton

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