Nazem Kadri made a grand return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup on Wednesday, scoring the game-winner in overtime to lift the Avs over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Kadri had been out of action since Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers, missing the last four games after undergoing surgery to repair a broken thumb.
Tampa Bay wasted little time tallying the first goal of Game 4. Just 36 seconds in, Anthony Cirelli lit the lamp, giving the Lightning a 1-0 lead before most fans were in their seats.
The Lightning held onto a 1-0 advantage until Avalanche captain Nathan MacKinnon tied the game up 5:17 into the second period. Tampa Bay would regain the lead just over five minutes later when Victor Hedman scored off the backhand at 10:42. The Lightning led 2-1 at the second intermission.
In the third, it was Colorado’s turn to strike quickly. Andrew Cogliano netted the equalizer for the Avalanche 2:53 into the period forcing overtime.
Despite remarkable play from Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, it was practically all Avalanche in overtime. Colorado’s offense buzzed around Vasilevskiy, who kept several high-percentage chances out of the net during the OT.
The Avalanche’s offensive pressure eventually prevailed, and Kadri netted the game-winning goal 12:02 into the first overtime. The official behind the net didn’t immediately signal a goal, which created some brief confusion. But after a quick huddle between the officials, the goal was ruled official.
In a losing effort, Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in Game 4. Across the ice, Darcy Kuemper was solid for the Avalanche, turning away 37 of 39 shots.
The Stanley Cup will be in the house at Ball Arena for Game 5 Wednesday night in Colorado as the Avalanche can close out the final with a win.