The Colorado Avalanche is winning one of their first Stanley Cup titles since 2001, thanks to Nazim Qadri’s goal in overtime on Wednesday. Even if the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t think he should have counted.
Qadri scored at 12:02 in the overtime period to give Colorado a 3-2 victory in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final.
Without specifically saying Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice to score, Lightning coach John Cooper suggested the goal shouldn’t be allowed. “We are all in this together. Players, coaches, referees are everyone. But this person will sting a lot more than the others,” he said.
“It will be difficult for me to talk… I will talk to you [on Thursday]. You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. My heart goes out to the players. Because maybe we still have to play.”
The NHL released a statement saying the sanction is a judgment call that can be made by on-ice officials. All four officials said they did not see there were too many men on the ice in the winning play. The call is not subject to video review.
Returning to the line-up after being sidelined since June 4 with a thumb injury, Kadri got ahead of Andrei Vasilevsky and fired a ball under the goalkeeper’s right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 lead. “It was a huge win. A resilient win,” said Kadri, who has been sidelined since his injury during Game Three of the Western Conference Final against Edmonton.
“I’ve been waiting for this all my life. I thought it was time to join the party.”
Avalanche outperformed Lightning 11-3 in the extra period. Vasilevsky stopped Logan O’Connor on a break, and Colorado fired one shot from the post and one hit the crossbar before Kadri finished it.
Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the match and Victor Hedman also scored on the Lightning List. They took a 2-1 lead in the third half. Nathan McKinnon scored in the second-half strength game for Colorado and Andrew Cogliano equalized early in the third.
Darcy Comber, who pulled out of Game Three after conceding five goals in the 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots and set up the avalanche’s winning goal. Vasilevsky finished with 35 saves. He recovered from allowing 11 goals in games 1 and 2 to limit the high-goal avalanche to five in the past two games.
The Lightning are trying to become the first team to win at least three consecutive Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980 to 1983. The last time Avalanche won the cup was in 2001.
Lightning bounced back from poor play in games 1 and 2 to make it interesting by neutralizing Colorado’s pace, reducing the chances of scoring an avalanche and increasing pressure on Kuemper, who was barely tested when he faced 16 shots in a 7-0 blast in games 2.
Cirelli’s goal was the fastest in a Stanley Cup Final since 2006, and Lightning set the tone for another busy night for Quimper by outsmarting the avalanche 17-4 in the opening period. Two of Colorado’s shots came while skiing in shortened style, resulting in Tampa Bay’s first power game.
McKinnon’s first goal in the series — his twelfth of the playoffs — erased Colorado’s early deficit at 5:17 of the second half. The avalanche eased again when Cogliano, assisted by Nico Sturm and Darren Helm, scored in a less than three-minute deflection in the third minute.
Game 5 Friday night in Denver, as Colorado won the first two games of the series and 7-2 this post-season.