The Colorado Avalanche entered Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning trying to split the away games and have a chance for the Cup at home. They did just that, with a 3-2 overtime win away at the Amalie Arena on Wednesday night.
It was a victory flooded with resilience, controversy and unawareness at the end of the evening. The AVS have managed to resist everything and now have the chance to make history once again by entering the game of the year.
The AVS started off on the wrong foot right away. Just 36 seconds later, Darcy Kuemper lost her mask after a shot from the hoop. However, the game was not interrupted as a scoring game was imminent. Anthony Cirelli made the game count by crashing into an empty net.
Apart from Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri who sent some shots to the side, the AVS had absolutely nothing forward. 13 minutes later, the AVS only scored one shot on goal. Tampa was turning them off and trying to improve as Darren Helm took an interference penalty.
The penalty would eventually be lifted and somehow the AVS had some of their best offensive chances with a man down. Logan O’Connor led a couple of runs along the ice that gave Andrei Vasilevskiy a job. Otherwise, it was a terrible time.
The second period started on a better foot for the AVS as the first and third lines started the period well. They got their chance after Victor Hedman took an interference penalty. The AVS power-play continued to shine, as Nathan MacKinnon scored his first goal in the Stanley Cup final in an anomalous way to equalize it.
Momentum would be killed immediately when Bowen Byram took a hooking penalty. While he was killed, moments later, Hedman fell off the ice and beat Jack Johnson and Kuemper in a bad way to regain the advantage.
The AVS got a chance later when Steven Stamkos took a hooking penalty himself, but the AVS failed to capitalize. The period ended with Cirelli injured by falling and injuring himself in the hand / arm area. He helped the AVS end what was once a three-minute shift for Cale Makar and Josh Manson.
The AVS got off to a perfect start when Andrew Cogliano managed to catch a deflected shot from Nico Sturm’s rebound behind Vasilevskiy. With 17:07 left, it was all to play as we were tied for the second time.
The AVS developed on it, with Landeskog nearly taking another from a run on goal, but failed to do so. Nichushkin also nearly completed a wrap, while on the other side Nikita Kucherov hit the crossbar hard. He would be tense from here on out. Nothing would come of it, and after a few moments of tension for both sides, we moved on to OT.
It was all Avalanche in the extraordinary period. The chances of Nichuhskin, O’Connor, Toews, Landeskog and Byram were all blocked by Vasilevskiy or found iron. Byram’s chance specifically hit the crossbar after letting Vasilevskiy out to dry and was a heartthrob when she didn’t get in.
After the ice scraping in the middle of the period, the AVS continued. Finally, it would be Nazem Kadri who would play the hero after beating Vasilevskiy under the wall. He got stuck in the back crossbar of the door, it is not known whether or not he entered at first sight. Eventually he was noticed by the referees and the man returning from injury won him and gave the AVS a 3-2 win and a 3-1 advantage in the series.
All eyes were on Kuemper after he was withdrawn from his poor performance in Game 3. He did quite well, considering the fact that he scored a goal just 36 seconds into the match after losing the mask. He got to his feet as Tampa poured in blow by blow. Even though he didn’t have much to do during overtime, he stole one tonight.
The team in general also rebounded well. It took a while to get them to go after a bad first period. It was a better second period, and then a very good third period. They kept up with Tampa Bay after being the top team for most of the 60 minutes. Once overtime came, the AVS got past the Lightning and showed no mercy.
Tonight’s performance was one such resilience. They stole this and now I’m in first position. The Cup will be under construction folks! They have a chance to make history. Another such performance, with a boisterous home crowd behind it, could ultimately be fate. Denver would go into overdrive if they could pull it off. For now, everyone goes about their superstitious pursuits, kick back, and be ready for the prep for a wild Friday night to come.
We’re back to Colorado for Game 5 on Friday night. With the AVS leading 3-1, they can win the Cup on home ice in a turbulent fashion. Disc delivery is at 6pm MT on ABC.