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Kadri scores in OT in return, Avs move to brink of title

Nazem Kadri scored at 12:02 of overtime — perhaps with too many Colorado players on the ice — and the Avalanche beat Tampa Bay 3-2 on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to move within a victory of dethroning the two-time defending champion Lightning

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche are on the verge of their first Stanley Cup title since 2001, thanks to Nazem Kadri's overtime goal.

Even if the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning don't believe it should have counted.

Kadri scored at 12:02 of the extra period to give Colorado a 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and move the Avalanche within a win of their first championship in over two decades. Game 5 is Friday night in Denver, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and are 7-2 this postseason.

Without specifically saying Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice just ahead of the final score, Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested the game-winning goal should not have been allowed.

“We’re all in this together. Players, coaches, refs, everybody. But this one is going to sting much more than others,” Cooper said.

“It’s going to be hard for me to speak. ... I’ll speak with you (Thursday). You’re going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal,” Cooper added. “And my heart breaks for the players. Because we probably still should be playing.”

The NHL released a statement said hockey operations staff met with the four officials after the game per usual and “each of the four officials advised that they did not see a too many men on the ice situation on the play.” The league said a too many men penalty is a judgement call, and the situation is not subject to video review.

Back in the lineup after being sidelined since June 4 with a thumb injury, Kadri skated in on Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped a shot under the goaltender's right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 series lead.

“That was a huge win. A resilient win,” said Kadri, who had been sidelined since being injured during Game 3 of the Western Conference final against Edmonton.

“I've been waiting for this my whole life,” he added. “I figured it was time to join the party.”

The Avalanche outshot the Lightning 11-3 in the extra period. Vasilevskiy stopped Logan O'Connor on a breakaway, and Colorado had a shot clang off the post and another hit the crossbar before Kadri ended it.

Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game and Victor Hedman also scored in regulation for the Lightning. They took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

Nathan MacKinnon scored on a second-period power play for Colorado, and Andrew Cogliano tied it early in the third.

Darcy Kuemper, pulled from Game 3 after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots and had an assist of the winning goal for the Avalanche.

Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves. He has rebounded from allowing 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 to limit the high-scoring Avalanche to five the past two games.

The Lightning are trying to become the first team to win at least three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83. The Avalanche last hoisted the Cup in 2001.

The Lightning have rebounded from playing poorly in Games 1 and 2 to make it interesting by neutralizing Colorado’s speed, limiting the Avalanche’s scoring opportunities and turning up the pressure on Kuemper, who was barely tested when he faced just 16 shots in a 7-0 blowout in Game 2.

Cirelli’s goal was the fastest in a Stanley Cup Final since 2006, and the Lightning set the tone for another busy night for Kuemper by outshooting the Avalanche 17-4 in the opening period. Two of Colorado’s shots came while skating short-handed, killing off Tampa Bay’s first power play of the night.

MacKinnon’s first goal of the series and 12th of the playoffs erased Colorado’s early deficit at 5:17 of the second period. The Avalanche pulled even again when Cogliano, assisted by Nico Sturm and Darren Helm, scored on a deflection less than three minutes into the third.

INJURIES

Kadri returned to the lineup after missing four games. He had been out since injuring his thumb when he was boarded by Evander Kane in Game 3 of Colorado’s sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference final. Kane received a major penalty and was suspended a game.

Tampa Bay also played much of the game without defenseman Eric Cernak, banged up for much of the series.

HELPING HANDS

Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar assisted on MacKinnon’s goal, giving both of them 20 this postseason — a franchise record for a single playoff year. Peter Stastny had 19 with Quebec in 1985.


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The fast-flying Colorado Avalanche have zoomed out to a 2-0 series lead over Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup Final. Colorado is clicking on all cylinders even with its star player Nathan MacKinnon yet to score in the final. It's hardly a concern. This is whirring team that comes at you from all directions and angles. They’ve scored at least seven goals four times in this playoff run, with the latest a 7-0 rout of the Lightning in Game 2. The series now moves to Tampa for Game 3. The Avalanche are 7-0 on the road so far in the postseason.

Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning scored four times in the second period and beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Anthony Cirelli, Nicholas Paul and Corey Perry also scored to help the two-time defending champion Lightning bounce back after playing poorly while losing the first two games on the road. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman had two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 shots. Stamkos, Paul, Maroon and Perry scored in the second period, when the Lightning chased Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper while pulling away to trim their series deficit to 2-1. Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and Mikko Rantanen had two assists for the Avalanche. Game 4 is Wednesday night.

Avisaíl García drove in the go-ahead run on a fielder’s-choice grounder in the eighth inning, and the Miami Marlins beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep. Four relievers combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings for the Marlins. Steven Okert pitched a scoreless eighth to pick up his second win of the series. Tanner Scott struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save. Miami’s Jon Berti had two hits and stole two bases, extending his streak of successful attempts to a club-record 21. Brendan Rodgers doubled twice, tripled and singled for the Rockies, who stranded 13 runners and were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Garrett Cooper lined a tiebreaking double in the eighth inning, and the Miami Marlins overcame a four-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 9-8 for just their third win in nine games. Colorado led 4-0 before Miami scored five times in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-5 lead. The Rockies tied the score 8-8 in the sixth after Cooper allowed Brendan Rodgers’ two-out grounder to get by him and into right field for an error that led that led to three unearned runs.

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