Wednesday's NHL: Kadri's OT goal lifts Avalanche over Lightning 3-2 in Game 4

Fred Goodall
Associated Press

Tampa, Fla. — Nazem Kadri scored at 12:02 of overtime and the Colorado 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.

Playing for the first time since June 4 due to 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,” the Colorado center 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.

Game 5 is Friday night in Denver, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and are 7-2 this postseason.

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.

Colorado Avalanche center Andrew Cogliano, center, and defenseman Josh Manson (42) celebrate the overtime goal by teammate center Nazem Kadri (91) in Game 4 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

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 — 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.

Paul Maurice hired as new coach of the Florida Panthers

Sunrise, Fla. — Paul Maurice is the new coach of the Florida Panthers, agreeing on a deal Wednesday to take over a club coming off a season where it had the best record in the NHL and rewrote the franchise’s record book.

The 55-year-old Maurice will be introduced Thursday morning, the Panthers said.

Maurice will replace Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, who could remain with the organization if he chooses to do so.

Brunette took over early last season following the resignation of Joel Quenneville, who had to step down after the revelation of how the Chicago Blackhawks mishandled abuse allegations brought by a player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Quenneville coached Chicago at that time.

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice signals to his players during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. A person with knowledge of the situation said Paul Maurice and the Florida Panthers were in the process Wednesday, June 22, 2022, of finalizing a deal to make him the club's new coach.

TSN first reported that the Panthers and Maurice were finalizing an agreement.

Panthers general manager Bill Zito, in a statement released through the team, said Maurice's hiring came after “an in-depth examination of all aspects of our team."

“After taking the appropriate amount of time for analysis, we determined that we needed the perfect fit to continue with the growth of our players and stay on the path for our franchise goals,” Zito said. “Paul’s experience and intellect were just what we were looking for and we are thrilled for him to step into the role of head coach.”

The Panthers will become the fourth franchise that Maurice coaches. He started in Hartford in 1995, two seasons before that franchise relocated to Carolina. He coached Toronto for two seasons before returning to Carolina, then spent nearly nine years as coach in Winnipeg before stepping down there in December.

“I’ve pushed as long and as hard as I can here. I love these guys. They need a new voice, and I know that," Maurice said when he left Winnipeg.

Now six months removed from that decision, Maurice is also getting a new start with a team that believes it is a Stanley Cup contender.

Florida won the Presidents' Trophy this season and reached the second round of the playoffs, winning a postseason series for the first time since 1996. Brunette was a coach of the year finalist in his first head-coaching stint at the NHL level, finishing as runner-up to Calgary’s Darryl Sutter for the Jack Adams Award.

That wasn’t enough to get him the job long-term, nor was support from Panthers players, including captain Aleksander Barkov among others.

Instead, the Panthers are turning to Maurice — who is fourth on the NHL’s all-time games coached list with 1,684, seventh on the all-time wins list with 775, but has never led a team to the Stanley Cup. He got Carolina to the title series in 2002, but the Hurricanes lost in five games to the Detroit Red Wings.

Florida, over the last three combined seasons, ranks second in the NHL in wins (130) and standings-points-per-game (1.35) — behind only Colorado on both of those lists. The Avalanche have 137 wins and average 1.41 standings points per game over that span.

The Panthers also set team records this season in numerous categories, including wins (58) and goals (340). Jonathan Huberdeau became the first Panthers player with a 100-point season, the team went 34-7-0 at home, started the year with eight consecutive wins and added a 13-game winning streak later in the season.

Florida wound up getting swept by Tampa Bay in the second round, and a month later, Maurice has now been brought on-board to see where he can take the Panthers next season and beyond.