DENVER — Andre Burakovsky was like a child on Christmas morning earlier than Recreation 1 of the Stanley Cup Remaining on Wednesday. Solely he ended up delivering the present.
Colorado’s huge winger scored the sport winner in extra time to raise the Avalanche previous the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-Three for a 1-Zero lead within the collection. Burakovsky is one in every of solely two Colorado gamers — together with Darren Helm — to have gained a Cup earlier than, again in 2018 with the Washington Capitals. That have hasn’t lessened his pleasure to be again competing for a championship, or to be making an impression.
“I used to be form of nervous, had a little bit bother sleeping final night time,” Burakovsky mentioned. “I awakened at 6 within the morning and could not anticipate the sport. I really feel like I have been there earlier than and know the state of affairs and know what’s at stake.”
Gabriel Landeskog, who additionally scored in Colorado’s victory and was sharing a podium with Burakovsky for the postgame information convention, could not assist however gently mock his teammate’s enthusiasm.
“Simply wait till you’ve got youngsters,” Landeskog mentioned. “You may be up at 6 each day.”
Burakovsky knew going into Recreation 1 that he would have an expanded position for the Cup Remaining and performed 12:34 in a particular teams-laden matchup. Nazem Kadri continues to be sidelined with a damaged thumb suffered within the Western Convention finals, the identical collection through which Burakovsky blocked a shot off his leg and was compelled to overlook video games 2 and three.
He was again for Recreation Four and changed Kadri on Colorado’s second line. Burakovsky mentioned earlier this week that he hadn’t felt near being absolutely wholesome once more till lately, nevertheless it was signal for the collection forward. It helped that Colorado had eight days off between finishing its sweep of the Edmonton Oilers within the convention finals on June 6 and puck drop in Wednesday’s tilt.
Whereas the Avalanche had the higher of Tampa Bay early, leaping out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, the two-time defending Cup champions roared again within the second interval to tie the rating. Regulation ended with the perimeters knotted 3-3, and it took Burakovsky lower than 90 seconds in that further body to complete the job.
“I simply noticed [J.T.] Compher get the puck by way of the impartial zone and win battles,” he mentioned. “And I attempted to get out as fast as doable after which clearly Val [Nichushkin] received the puck again in and made an ideal play to me and it was as much as me to shoot it.”
It was solely Burakovsky’s second purpose of the postseason and his first since he lit the lamp in Recreation Four of Colorado’s first-round collection towards the Nashville Predators. Burakovsky’s lack of manufacturing led to him being scratched for a pair of video games within the Avalanche’s second-round matchup with the St. Louis Blues. He made it by way of that adversity, similar as he did the latest harm, and coach Jared Bednar favored what he noticed from Burakovsky throughout the board in Wednesday’s win.
“I believed he was actually strong tonight,” Bednar mentioned. “Managed the puck very well. Did not have any turnovers. Checked arduous. Was getting above pucks. Skating properly. That is what Burky can do. You set him in a spot, and he can end. He is a streaky scorer, and when he will get alternatives, he can put the puck within the internet. All-around recreation for him tonight. I believed it was actually robust.”
Burakovsky won’t rating loads, however traditionally his postseason contributions are fairly well timed. When Washington was on its Cup run, Burakovsky scored a pair of targets in Recreation 7 of the Japanese Convention finals — additionally towards Tampa Bay — that punched the Capitals’ ticket to the Remaining.
Now he’s gotten to be a playoff hero once more and put Colorado three wins away from hoisting the Cup.
“It was form of a loopy feeling,” he mentioned. “Simply able to be right here on this Remaining and assist the staff win a recreation and it was a pleasant feeling for certain.”