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 purpose — sure, the identical Nazem Kadri who was enjoying in his first recreation again after breaking a 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 the morning skate on Wednesday, even when Avs coach Jared Bednar would not affirm it on the time: Kadri was a go for Sport 4.
The ahead hadn’t performed since being boarded by Evander Kane and sustaining a damaged thumb in Sport Three 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, transferring Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin off Nathan MacKinnon‘s flanks and onto Kadri’s. Landeskog can take left-side faceoffs for Kadri, and he’s a giant physique like Nichushkin, so that they had the power to insulate Kadri in a number of methods.
It was clear early on how far Kadri was from 100%. He did not wish to — or could not — shoot the puck together with his typical drive, 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 will give Colorado a 3-1 collection lead, 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 — supplied greater than what Colorado might have hoped for in his first recreation again. — Kristen Shilton
The Lightning did not take benefit after 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 remainder benefit the Avalanche had earlier than the Stanley Cup Remaining would come into play. By the point Kadri scored the sport winner, the Lightning have been in pure counterpunch mode with the Avalanche carrying a lot of the play.
Now they face an almost insurmountable problem. Groups with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven maintain an all-time collection document of 298-31 (.906), together with a 35-1 (.972) mark within the finals and a 2-1 clip this postseason. They are going again to Colorado, the place the line-matching benefits that they had at dwelling disappear.
It’s going to take the guts of a champion for the Lightning to three-peat after this loss. — Greg Wyshynski
Colorado could not have seen that begin coming. Darcy Kuemper actually could not.
It will take Tampa Bay solely 36 seconds to go up 1-Zero over the Avalanche on the weirdest purpose. 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 shot that put Tampa Bay on the board.
Usually when a goalie’s masks comes off, there’s a right away whistle, however on this case, as a result of there was an ongoing scoring likelihood, play was allowed to proceed.
After the early purpose, Tampa Bay continued to dominate. Kuemper was below siege because the Lightning outshot Colorado 17-Four by way of 20 minutes, however he stored the rating at 1-0. Nathan MacKinnon lastly knotted it up 5:17 into the second interval when a Mikko Rantanen cross deflected in off his skate, giving him his first purpose of the collection.
Victor Hedman put Tampa Bay again forward halfway by way of the second, earlier than Andrew Cogliano tied it at 2 off a Nico Sturm feed early within the third.
It was the type of back-and-forth affair we did not see within the earlier two video games on this collection (7-Zero and 6-2 ultimate scores). This evening was extra strategic after a messy first interval. The momentum swings have been actual, and weathered properly by either side. It appeared like Colorado and Tampa Bay have been lastly settling in, that they’d figured each other out. In spite of everything 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 on out? Or are there extra blowouts to come back? — Shilton
Avs’ special-teams domination continues
No, it wasn’t the prettiest power-play purpose, because the puck bounced off MacKinnon’s skate and previous Andrei Vasilevskiy early within the second interval. Nevertheless it was one other power-play purpose for the Avalanche, who’ve dominated on particular groups on this collection.
Colorado is now 6-for-13 with the person benefit, a preposterously good conversion price of 46.2%. The Lightning entered Sport Four with a 77.9% penalty kill price, and simply 67.9% on dwelling ice.
“They’ve a great energy play and so they feed off it. It provides them power. However we’ve got 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 is perhaps time to precise some concern concerning 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 stated the significance of particular groups lies in “killing them off on the proper time.” Within the two tightest video games of this collection — Video games 1 and 4 — one power-play purpose from the Lightning would have made all of the distinction. — Wyshynski
Want for pace
Colorado took a 2-Zero lead on this collection due to its pace. There have been different components concerned, however that was the large one.
Of their first two video games at dwelling, the Avalanche outskated Tampa Bay everywhere in the ice and have been notably fast by way of the impartial zone attending to — and taking away — pucks. The Avalanche’s pace assault brutalized the Lightning.
Nicely, that pace wilted within the Florida warmth.
Colorado appeared nearer to skating by way of sand for the primary half of Sport 4. The Avs’ tenacity and forechecking had stalled. Was it as a result of the Lightning have been transferring faster at dwelling, versus at elevation in Denver? 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 issue getting there may be price monitoring now. Taking part in quick and up ice has been an indicator of Colorado’s success. It is tough to generate these juicy alternatives off the frenzy with out it. The Lightning have 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
Tuesday evening was a bizarre one for Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. It was the evening earlier than Sport Four of the Stanley Cup Remaining, and so they have been wearing fits on the NHL Awards dinner, held at a Tampa brewery.
Hedman bought all dolled up simply to observe Makar win the Norris Trophy because the NHL’s greatest defenseman. It was the sixth time Hedman was nominated for the award. He has received it solely as soon as. So there was in all probability some satisfaction for Hedman within the second interval when he scored the type of purpose that Norris Trophy candidacies are made from: 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 robust, energetic evening for the Lightning. It might need been the very best recreation he has 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 presently of 12 months, you have a look at the win sheet,” he stated. “It would not matter the way you get it, you simply wish to get it accomplished.” — Wyshynski
Relying on Kuemper
Kuemper’s confidence might have been misplaced alongside together with his masks on that first purpose.
Colorado’s starter was pulled halfway by way of Sport Three for permitting 5 objectives on 22 photographs, and whereas Bednar gave him the nod for Sport 4, Tampa Bay’s fluky first purpose might have gone proper to Kuemper’s head. As a substitute, it appeared to provoke the netminder. He was the one factor protecting Colorado within the recreation over the primary 20 minutes, when the Avalanche have 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 protecting 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 have been being badly outplayed at 5-on-5.
Hedman’s purpose 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 purpose to tie the sport.
Bednar has praised Kuemper’s skill 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 greatest reply in internet (no disrespect to Pavel Francouz). He ended up being fairly good general in a 37-save effort. It is simply laborious not to wonder if his streakiness could make his staff skittish, contemplating all the things at stake. — Shilton