The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning meet in a pivotal Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. Stick here for live updates leading up to and during the game. Refresh to see our latest analysis.
Third period highlights
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 23, 2022
Depth scoring (8:15 p.m.): How do you win tight Stanley Cup Final games? Goals from the fourth line surely help. That’s what Nico Sturm delivered on a rebound in front of Andrei Vasilevskiy that appeared to deflect off Andrew Cogliano. It was all the result of pressure, pressure, pressure, with the Avs living in the Bolts’ zone. — Matt Schubert
Second intermission analysis
Mike Chambers, Avs beat reporter: The Avs outshoot the Lightning 17-9 in the second period and get a power-play goal on their first man-advantage opportunity. But a soft goal allowed by Darcy Kuemper is now the difference. Kuemper obviously misplayed Victor Hedman’s backhander from the left circle because he wasn’t screened and it beat him blocker side. It wasn’t a dangerous shot. But that’s the difference after two periods.
Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter: There was finally a Nathan MacKinnon sighting when he scored his first goal of the series — the puck went off his skate and then off Vasilevskiy’s skate and into the goal for the 1-1 tie. That momentum was short-lived, though. Noted sniper Victor Hedman (we kid) scored on a back-handed shot that was a soft goal allowed by Kuemper.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: The special-teams work is scintillating, but the Avs’ offense in 5-on-5 situations looks as if it’s skating on a swampy ice. The Avs’ power play had taken the Amalie Arena crowd out of the game, which is exactly what you need on the road, when another brain cramp got those noisemaker-tossers back into it again. You can’t lose track of a team’s stars, let alone when one’s 6-foot-6, and let alone on a line change, but that’s what happened with about nine minutes left in the stanza, as ace Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman was allowed to basically carry the puck into the Avs’ zone untouched. As Jack Johnson and Valeri Nichuskin largely left the large Hedman alone, he made Colorado pay with a backhand that gave the hosts the lead again, 2-1. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Second period highlights
Cirelli goes to locker room (7:50 p.m.): Lightning center Anthony Cirelli went from the ice straight to the locker room after appearing to land awkwardly on his arm on Avs’ side of the ice. It did not look good. That would be a big loss for Tampa Bay. — Matt Schubert
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, VICTOR HEDMAN 👏 pic.twitter.com/FoDi6tfN5c
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 23, 2022
Lightning strikes back (7:32 p.m.): Victor Hedman vs. three Avs defenders? Somehow Colorado came up on the short end of that one, with the Lightning defenseman backhanding a shot past Darcy Kuemper after some nifty stick work gave him a look at net. That’s the kind of goal that cannot happen. — Matt Schubert
Avs are sizzling on special teams in the series (7:30 p.m.): They are 2-for-2 on the PK and 1-1 on the power play tonight. In the series, they have scored six goals on 12 PP opportunities (50%) and have killed off 12 of 13 shorthanded situations. — Mike Chambers
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) June 23, 2022
Special teams come up big again (7:21 p.m.): The first period ended with the Avs penalty kill taking care of yet another penalty. Then a little more than five minutes into the second period, the Avs power play put on a clinic, keeping the puck in the Lightning zone for more than a minute straight before Nathan MacKinnon scored his 12th goal of the postseason. — Matt Schubert
First intermission analysis
Mike Chambers, Avs beat reporter: The defense in front of goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been excellent. Or the Avs’ shooters have been awful. Probably a little of both. Tampa Bay is outshooting Colorado 17-4 after 20 minutes. But the Avs have had 13 shots blocked and five others miss the net. That’s off-target because you got to get pucks through the first layer and you have to make your shots count. The Lightning had the only power play in the first. The Avs are probably fortunate to only be down 1-0. But they are playing hard. The details just are off.
Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter: Tampa Bay scored 36 seconds into the game and outshot the Avs 17-4. Yes, it appeared that lopsided. The Lightning’s defense was terrific — it looked like it had 7 guys on the ice and each man was carrying two sticks to get into the Avs’ passing lanes. Anybody who can get a hold of Nathan MacKinnon between periods, let him know it’s time for him to make an impact.
Mark Kiszla, sports columnist: Darcy Kuemper played well in goal. But Jared Bednar not only got Nazem Kadri in lineup, the coach blew up his lines in process. After getting outshot 17-4, are adjustments in the offing?
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Great to see Nazem Kadri back and getting back into the speed of things. But as to the scoreboard, we stressed it pregame — the two things thing the Avalanche absolutely cannot do is 1) Give away the puck in front of Kuemper; 2) Let the Lightning forecheck dictate the tempo. The first 12 minutes of the tilt saw a bit too much of both, you’d have to think, for coach Jared Bednar’s liking. Seventeen shots! Colorado has to shift the action on Tampa’s end of the ice, minimizing the risk (and opportunities) in front of Kuemper and forcing the Lightning to get tired chasing them around. They failed on a fluky tip-in within the first 36 seconds, and that’s been the difference thus far.
First period highlights
Where’s the shots? (6:56 p.m.): The first period comes to a close with the Lightning holding a 17-4 shot advantage. The good news: Darcy Kuemper only let one through. The bad news: This is not a recipe for success for the Avs. — Matt Schubert
Blocking brigade (6:44 p.m.): The Lightning already have seven blocked shots in this game, making the Avs’ extended time in Tampa’s zone moot. After a couple of laughers, this has all the makings of a white-knuckle affair in Amalie Arena. — Matt Schubert
Second TV timeout (6:41 p.m.): Avs still down 1-0 and not much has changed. They can’t get the puck on Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. Most of the play has been in Tampa Bay’s end, but the defense in front of Vasy is strong. Shots are 9-1 TB was based on possession time it could be about even. — Mike Chambers
First TV timeout (6:30 p.m.): Avs trail 1-0 and being outshot 6-1. But after Tampa Bay scored on its first shift, 36 seconds in, Colorado dominated and much of the play was in the Lightning’s end. Problem was, the Avs didn’t get any good looks. — Mike Chambers
COMING IN HOT 🔥 pic.twitter.com/MfmSVUuQtD
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 23, 2022
Helmet-less and hung out to dry (6:21 p.m.): Well, this could’ve started a little better.In a wicked flurry of shots, and some impressive saves from Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper, the Lightning were able to get on the board in the game’s first minute after Anthony Cirelli scored off a rebound in the front of the crease.Kuemper absolutely scrapped during the sequence, even after he get his helmet taken off by an errant Lightning stick (Where have we seen that before?), but the pressure was simply too much. Lightning 1, Avalanche 0 — Matt Schubert
Nazem Kadri returns to Avalanche lineup for Game 4 against Tampa Bay
Avalanche center Nazem Kadri was a late addition to the lineup for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final here Wednesday evening.
Kadri participated in his first morning skate with the team since June 4 and also took the pregame warmup. He is recovering from sustaining a broken right thumb in Game 3 against Edmonton in the Western Conference finals. — Mike Chambers
Game 4 predictions
Mark Kiszla, sports columnist. Prior to the Stanley Cup Final, I predicted the Avs to win series in seven. Gonna stand by that. But that being said, must confess: In each of three games played so far, I’ve been dead wrong three times. So for the benefit of Colorado fans, let me say: Lightning 3, Avs 2.
Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Avalanche 4, Lightning 3. Darcy or Frankie? Doesn’t matter. The Avs’ defensive rotations, and adjustments on the fly, are the critical pieces here, and we saw on Monday night what happens when those fall apart. The number to keep in mind: 30 opponent shots on goal. The Avs are 9-0 this postseason, and 2-0 in the Final, when the opposition gets off 29 shots or fewer at whoever’s between the pipes. Get yourself a stranglehold on the defensive end of the ice, and you’ll get a grip on this series again.
Mike Chambers, Avs beat writer: Avalanche 4, Lightning 2. Colorado will win by staying out of the box. Tampa Bay had six power plays in Game 3 — the kiss of death for the defending team because the Lightning’s power play is a sleeping giant and it takes away from creating offense. Yet, Colorado produced 39 shots. If they had trimmed the Lightning to three power plays on Monday, the Avs would have had more shots for Vasy to have to fend off. So stay out of the box, limit those big Lightning scoring chances in Game 3 and Colorado goes up 3-1 in this series with a chance to hoist the Cup in Denver on Friday night. With or without Nazem Kadri contributing, I have the Avs coming out on top.
Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter: Avalanche 4, Lightning 2. I’m 0 for 3 picking games in this series and got zero gut feeling for this one, but I’ll go with an Avs team that hasn’t lost consecutive games this postseason.
Kadri in the building (5:37 p.m.). Nazem Kadri arrived here at Amalie Arena on the Avs’ first bus — the one carrying the guys who will do warmups and likely be in the lineup, plus coaches. The second bus has scratched players and support staff. TSN’s Chris Johnston was among those who saw Kadri arrive with the regulars. Kadri later emerged from the locker room for warmups, and possibly return from a four-game injury absence (surgically repaired broken thumb). If Kadri is in the lineup, I expect him to return to centering the second line with Artturi Lehkonen and Mikko Rantanen. Kadri likely won’t take faceoffs. But I didn’t expect Andrew Cogliano to throw punches with both hands in Game 3 on Monday. He had hand/wrist surgery a couple days after Kadri went under the knife on June 6. — Mike Chambers
Different coaches, different styles (5:15 p.m.). The Avs’ Jared Bednar and Lightning’s Jon Cooper are polar opposites in how they do (Cooper) and don’t (Bednar) talk about their lineups. This morning, Cooper said he didn’t expect any lineup changes from Monday night, meaning winger Nikita Kucherov is in and Cooper then ruled out center Brayden Point. An hour later, it was Bednar’s turn. He wouldn’t commit to a starting goalie, which for some reason got some laughs from the assembled media who must not like information and would only say center Nazem Kadri is progressing. — Ryan O’Halloran
Dressed for success (5:14 p.m.): Suits. Always suits. — Matt Schubert
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 22, 2022
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) June 22, 2022
Nazem Kadri participates in Avalanche morning skate, could return for Game 4
Avalanche center Nazem Kadri on Wednesday participated in his first morning skate with the team since June 4. He is recovering from sustaining a broken right thumb in Game 3 against Edmonton in the Western Conference finals.
Kadri could potentially return from a four-game absence and play in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night. — Mike Chambers
Read more from Mike Chambers.
Avalanche’s Cale Makar showered with praise after winning Norris Trophy. “He is just unbelievable”
Understandably, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar didn’t devote much time to discussing individual awards while preparing for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday morning at Amalie Arena.
Only two victories from hoisting the Cup, it’s all about the team.
Make no mistake, Bednar is proud of Cale Makar, who became Colorado’s first Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman on Tuesday night. But the coach only offered this about Makar winning the prestigious award: “For me, he’s having a spectacular season. Well deserving of that.” — Mike Chambers
Read more from Mike Chambers.
Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Must reads
Kiszla: Avs need Nathan MacKinnon to lead with Stanley Cup Final hanging in balance.
On the ice, Nathan MacKinnon could always fly. But like Peter Pan, he refused to grow up. A hockey genius when admired from a safe distance. But up close and personal, the enfant terrible of the Colorado locker room could be extremely hard to live with.
“He’s still hard on himself and others. I think that’s part of what makes him so good,” veteran Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson said Tuesday.
Like many wizards, MacKinnon can display zero tolerance for the human fallacies and failings of the muggles around him. Truth be known, his impatience can make MacKinnon a royal pain in the butt. — Mark Kiszla
Read more from Mark Kiszla.
Breakdowns that plagued Avalanche in Game 3 must be corrected to avoid seeing series tied
If defending well is a total team effort — 12 forwards, six defensemen and one goalie all working as one — so is defending poorly.
The Avalanche’s 7-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final was a masterclass; the Lightning had only 16 shots on goal.
But the Avalanche’s 6-2 loss in Monday’s Game 3 was the complete opposite. — Ryan O’Halloran
Read more from Ryan O’Halloran.
Game 4 debate: Who should Avalanche coach Jared Bednar start in goal — and who will he start?
After benching Darcy Kuemper midway through Game 3’s blowout loss, who should Avalanche coach Jared Bednar turn to between the pipes in Game 4: Kuemper or Pavel Francouz? Read more from The Post’s sports staff.
More Stanley Cup Final coverage
https://www.greeleytribune.com/2022/06/22/avalanche-lightning-updates-highlights-stanley-cup-finals-game-4/ Live updates from Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Game 4