The Tampa Bay Lightning almost had it. Up twice in this game, they let the Colorado Avalanche come back with Nazem Kadri eventually scoring the back-breaking goal in overtime. The Lightning are now down 1-3 in the Stanley Cup Final. To win, they’ll need to beat the Avalanche twice on the road. Game 5 is on Friday.
Anthony Cirelli and Victor Hedman scored the goals for the Lightning, while MacKinnon, Cogliano, and Kadri scored for the Avalanche. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 of 38 shots, with Darcy Kuemper 37 of 39 as the Lightning out-shot the Avalanche in this game. Both teams had two power play opportunities, with the Avalanche scoring the lone special teams goal.
It cannot be ignored how battered and worn out the Lightning look right now. Erik Cernak left the game in the second period. Cirelli was feared to be gone in the second, too. We know Brayden Point isn’t healthy, but at this point he might feel like he has to force himself into the lineup to help.
The silver lining for this game is that the Lightning played great for most of the game — they genuinely did. Unfortunately, they completely ran out of gas (pregnant pause), slowed down, made mistakes, and the Avalanche were just relentless with their attacks. Kadri’s goal was a prime example of that as Lehkonen’s stretch pass didn’t allow Sergachev to get off after a two minute long shift, giving Kadri an easier path to the front of the net. Vasilevskiy was doing all he can, but even he was getting hammered every minute in overtime.
Deserved loss, failed to close the door in the 3rd, and did absolutely nothing in OT to even make Colorado sweat.— Matthew S Esteves (@MatthewSEsteves) June 23, 2022
Bolts look tired, worn out, and injuries appear to be piling up.
Combine that with a relentless Colorado team that doesn't quit and this is what is left.
The gameflow map says the story of the game. The Lightning came out strong, both sides traded chances, but the Lightning were as good or better than the Avalanche the whole way through. Then in the third things started to get sloppy — for both teams. The Lightning gave up a lot of chances, then they came on strong with a bunch for themselves at the end of the period. That was the last push we saw out of them as the Avalanche counterattacked with enough to break the game.
Cirelli opened the scoring really early on this rebound as the Avs couldn’t box out of the front of the net with Colton also swarming there. Cernak got the assist. Ironically, both of these players would leave the game for a time (or in Cernak’s case the rest of the night) with injuries.
MacKinnon tied the game on his team’s first power play, redirecting a puck from Rantanen. Cernak was injured and unable to move, so down low it was like a 3-on-1 for McDonagh to handle. Landeskog was there to tuck the puck home in case, but it ended up being MacKinnon’s goal.
The Lightning responded quickly with this backhand shot from Hedman on the rush. Heddy skated diagonally from his own zone into the offensive zone, blew by all five guys and tucked an off-speed shot past Kuemper who was leaning to his left.
The Avalanche tied the game in the third with Nico Sturm and Cogliano both thinking they scored, but the goal eventually went to Cogliano. It was really Sturm’s chance, but his shot went off Cogliano’s leg and in. Would’ve been the fourth liner’s first ever Avs goal. Rutta had Cogliano covered, but both Perry and Paul went to cover the shot, leaving Sturm all alone. I think that was Paul’s guy, who was the center at the time.
The Lightning weren’t anywhere in the overtime, struggling to get out of the zone or make a cohesive pass. They were tired every shift, Vasilevskiy saw 18 pucks come at him (11 on net) in only 12 minutes. All of that pressure broke as Nazem Kadri — in his first game back after breaking his thumb 18 days ago — scored the winner going outside in on Sergachev and sticking the puck into the roof of the net past Vasilevskiy. For a minute people weren’t sure where the puck was, but it was eventually found in the net, tucked between the back bar and the mesh. Game over, possibly series over.