Nazem Kadri made his return to the lineup after sustaining a thumb injury in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers. It was his first game in 18 days, and Kadri made a bang in his return. It was just an overtime winner to get the Avalanche within one game of hoisting Lord Stanley of Preston’s silver punchbowl. It was the most anticlimactic overtime goal, as no one knew it had gone on. Sometimes the Stanley Cup is about fairytales and this certainly was one.
“Great boost for us to get that guy back,” MacKinnon said on the podium in a publicly broadcast interview.
MacKinnon finished the game with 13 shot attempts, over 27 minutes played and a goal, ending his drought he didn’t know he was on.
“What drought? I didn’t know I was in a drought,” MacKinnon said.
“Playing for what’s at stake right now, he wasn’t going to go down easy.” said Gabe Landeskog of teammate Kadri, “Great individual effort.”
The Avalanche were down 1-0, 2-1 and proceeded to win it in overtime 3-2. Resilience was key and the Avalanche proved it again tonight. The Avalanche outhit the Lightning 41-29, for one thing. And, they absolutely dominated in overtime, when the money was really on the line.
“We pushed them and deserved to win,” said MacKinnon, “We try to have a worker’s mentality.”
The 2021-2022 Norris Trophy recipient, Cale Makar, has been involved in the Avalanche’s last five goals. Headed into the the third period, he had already played over 21 minutes and 10 shot attempts. His shots were not finding their way through like they normally do but he was still making an impact. He finished the night with over 34 minutes and 13 shot attempts.
Darcy Kuemper answered the bell making 37 saves on 39 shots. The second goal was one he would like back but the team in front of him really stepped up in the 3rd period and overtime, completely dominating the play and clearing out the puck. Coach Jared Bednar made the right decision and put his faith back into his starter after being yanked two days before. Kuemper even finished with a point, assisting on Kadri’s overtime goal.
“I just thought he battled,” said Bednar, “Our team believes in him and I believe in him.”
The Avalanche will have a chance to celebrate with the home crowd Friday night at Ball Arena after taking a 3-1 series lead. Ball Arena, be ready. Avalanche faithful, be ready. You’re team could be bringing out some new hardware Friday night.