The Avalanche came from behind for a victory and the Bolts are on the brink with game five in Denver and Tampa Bay facing elimination.
The best pre-game analysis came from Mr. Chelios when informed of Mr. Kadri playing with a broken thumb protected by a cast, then commented, “I would whack it every chance I got”.
To begin the game Mr. Kuemper had unsuccessfully channeled Mr. Gump Worsley as Tampa Bay defenseman Mr. Cernak took a powerful shot that went off the goalies mask popping the straps.
And as the stick blade of Mr. Cirelli assisted the mask’s trajectory downwards the puck fell in front of Mr. Cirelli for the easy goal and a Lightning 1-0 lead only 36 seconds into the first period.
After that Tampa Bay played a defensive, protect the one-goal lead to the end of the game style that is camouflaged by the 11 SOG 2 statistical disparity reflecting mostly harmless shots by the four and a half minute mark of the first period.
Tampa Bay gets their first power play with three minutes remaining and allowed Colorado two short-handed SOG as the period finishes up with 17 SOG 4 Tampa Bay advantage.
Four minutes into the second period the Avalanche go on their first power play and just over a minute later the puck deflects off of Mr. MacKinnon’s skate blade for his first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals and the game is tied at one.
With less than nine minutes to play in the second period, Mr. Hedman takes a weak no-look backhand from near the faceoff dot that should have been stopped but eluded Mr. Kuemper’s blocker side over the pad for the Tampa Bay 2-1 lead.
Nearly three minutes into the third period Colorado quiets the Amalie Arena crowd with their second goal generated by the fourth line as Mr. Cogliano notches his third of the playoffs with a rare even-strength goal against the Lightning to tie the game at two.
The rest of the third period is filled with Tampa Bay Captain Mr. Stamkos blocking shots, Colorado’s Mr. Johnson handing out dasher board rattling checks, Tampa Bay scrumming it up, announcers starting their “next goal wins” rhetoric along with mentioning the lack of penalty calls.
For the second time in four games, the teams went into overtime and the Avalanche are hustling and get the first SOG, Colorado’s Mr. O’Connor gets a breakaway shot with the stick of Mr. Hedman on his glove, and there is a shot off the post then a crossbar and the Avalanche are relentlessly pressuring.
At the 12:02 mark of overtime, Mr. Kadri accepts a pass while entering the blue line and skates through Mr. McDonagh and around Mr. Sergachev to lift a shot up over Mr. Vasilevskiy into the net and it wedged into the top side of the netting.
This caused everyone for a moment to ask, “…did it go in”, and indeed it did for the Colorado 3-2 overtime victory and a 3-2 Stanley Cup Finals lead heading back to Denver for an elimination game five.
The drama does not end until HC Cooper vaguely infers in his post-game interview that the overtime-winning goal should not count, and Avalanche players were surprised when informed about HC Cooper’s comments at their press conferences.
Mr. Kadri was quoted as saying, “I’m not quite sure what he (HC Cooper) was thinking, why it shouldn’t have counted, the puck hit the back of the net, end of story.”
Also surprisingly HC Cooper does not agree with the on-ice official’s judgment/interpretations of Rule 74.1 (too many men on the ice), as well as almost coming to tears at the podium as he did not want to specifically say why.
The rule states: “When a player is retiring from the ice surface and is within the five-foot (5’) limit of his players’ bench, and his substitute is on the ice, then the retiring player shall be considered off the ice.”
Mr. MacKinnon was well within that distance when Kadri received the pass to enter the offensive zone, and the final call is with the on-ice officials, no replay or review can be utilized for a non-call.
Get ready for Friday Night in Denver as the streamers and balloons are up, the marching band is tuning up, and the parade is ready to start, with the Stanley Cup on-site for presentation, all that remains is an Avalanche home victory.
Tampa Bay can win this elimination road game and they have what is required to get the job done, with these two similar/evenly matched teams, anything is possible.