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Nazem Kadri, after missing more than two weeks with an injury, lifted the Colorado Avalanche to an important Game 4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-2, and bring the team one step closer to a Stanley Cup title.
Kadri somehow got his shot underneath Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy’s arm. The puck then got stuck inside the top of the net, leading to a delayed signal that the goal was actually scored. Avalanche players pointed out the puck was lodged in the top of the net and the goal was finalized.
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri shoots the puck into the top of the goal past Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) for a goal during overtime of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
“That was a huge win, Kadri told ESPN’s Emily Kaplan after the win. “We stuck with it. Resilient effort. Able to get it done in the OT.”
Kadri said he wasn’t exactly sure the goal went in.
“Not really. I mean, I tried to just make a little move there and go far side and I’m assuming that’s where it went. I don’t know if it found a hole,” he said. “It was a bit of a delayed reaction. I thought he (Vasilevskiy) had made the save for a second. Next thing you know, people started sprinting toward me. It’s a good feeling.”
Kadri had missed 18 days after suffering an injury in the Western Conference final against the Edmonton Oilers but came up big when Colorado needed him the most.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. So, I figured I’d stop waiting and try to join the parties. I’m just grateful I’m able to be in this position. With this group of guys, couldn’t have written a better story,” he said.
Anthony Cirelli got the scoring for Tampa Bay started early in the first period. He scored 36 seconds into the game in what was a controversial goal because Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s helmet came off with the puck in front of him.
Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period in Game Four of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on June 22, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images)
NHL rules state: “When a goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask and his team has control of the puck, play shall be stopped immediately to allow the goalkeeper the opportunity to regain his helmet and/or face mark. When the opposing team has control of the puck, play shall only be stopped if there’s is no immediate and impending scoring opportunity. This stoppage of play must be made by the Referee. Why play is stopped because the goalkeeper has lost his helmet and/or face mask, the ensuing face-off shall take place at one of the defending team’s end zone face-off spots.”
Colorado didn’t challenge the score and the Lightning took an early 1-0 lead and kept it into the second period.
But 5:17 into the second, the Avalanche tied the game with Nathan MacKinnon’s 12th goal of the postseason. It came on a power play. Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen each picked up their 20th assist on the score.
Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring on Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
About 5 minutes later, Victor Hedman somehow got a wobbly puck past Kuemper and put the Lightning back up 2-1 going into the third period.
Andrew Cogliano’s third goal of the postseason was the equalizer 2:53 into the third period. And just like that, Game 4 was tied up and just as much of a nail-biter as Game 1 was.
Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96), center Nathan MacKinnon (29) and defenseman Cale Makar (8) celebrate after a goal during the second period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
In the overtime period, Vasilevskiy and Kuemper were up for the task. Colorado rookie Logan O’Connor broke free and got a good chance to score but it was Vasilevskiy who stonewalled him with less than 15 minutes left in the overtime period.
With about 11:15 left, Vasilevskiy shut down more of Colorado’s offense. Bo Byram hit the post on one of his shots and then Vasilevskiy stopped subsequent one-timer attempt. Kuemper would then follow up by knocking down a Brandon Hagel shot.
But then Kadri’s shot ended the game.
Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves and Kuemper finished with 38 saves and had an assist on Kadri’s goal.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy blocks a shot during the first period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Game 5 is set for Friday night back in Denver at 8 p.m. ET. If Colorado wins, they will be Stanley Cup champions.
Ryan Gaydos is the sports editor for Fox News and Fox Business. Story tips can be sent to Ryan.Gaydos@fox.com.