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Avalanche outlast Lightning in overtime of Game 4

Nazem Kadri scored the game-winning goal in overtime to get Colorado one win away from the Stanley Cup.

TAMPA, Fla. — It's been one heck of a playoff story for Nazem Kadri.

The Avalanche forward wrote another stunning chapter Wednesday night, delivering the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4 in the Stanley Cup Final.

Kadri was playing in his first game back since suffering a thumb injury in the Western Conference Finals. Before that, he was the target of criticism in the second-round series against the Blues -- only to respond with a hat trick the following game.

Colorado, which won the game 3-2 over the Tampa Bay Lightning, is now just one win away from its first Stanley Cup in 21 years.

"Rollercoaster of emotions -- thinking I was done, then a sliver of hope, to sitting here right now. It's kind of surreal," Kadri said in his postgame press conference. "This is what I've been waiting for my whole life pretty much."

Credit: AP
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)

The Avalanche entered Wednesday night's game after being dealt a discouraging loss two nights prior in Game 3. The Lightning looked sharp early in Game 4 as well, striking first with a goal just 36 seconds into the game.

Colorado tied the game in the second period on a power-play goal credited to Nathan MacKinnon, then had another equalizer in the third from Andrew Cogliano.

STICKING WITH KUEMPER

After a rough outing that entailed giving up five goals on 22 shots in Game 3, starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper was pulled by coach Jared Bednar and replaced with backup Pavel Francouz.

Credit: AP
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper catches a shot by Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14) during the third period of Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Naturally, it sparked discussion about which one of the Avs' netminders would get the nod to start Game 4.

Kuemper allowed the early goal then regrouped to finish with 37 saves on 39 shots faced.

"Our team believes in him. I believe in him. I wanted to make sure that he believed in himself, that he'd be able to go and bounce back and do the job," Bednar said.

"He sounded confident and I think he did a great job."

The Stanley Cup Final will shift back to Denver, where the Avalanche will have a chance to clinch their first championship since 2001 in Game 5 on Friday. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. (MT) at Ball Arena.

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