Andre Burakovsky scored 1:23 into overtime as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena.
The Avalanche forward took a pass from teammate Valeri Nichushkin after a blocked shot by Victor Hedman and one-timed a shot past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to give Colorado the win & the 1-0 series lead.
Darcy Kuemper, who hadn't started since Game 1 of the Western Conference Final after sustaining an upper-body injury, made 20 saves in net for the Avs.
The Lightning enjoyed a return as well, getting Brayden Point back in the lineup after he was out for a month with a lower-body injury.
In this highly anticipated matchups between two of the top teams in the NHL, it was Tampa Bay that got the first power play of the night when Josh Manson was called for holding the stick at 5:07 of the 1st, but the Bolts were unable to convert.
The penalty kill certainly gave the Avalanche the momentum, and they capitalized on it.
Mikko Rantanen threw a shot on net from the left wing that squeezed through the arm & body of Vasilevskiy, and Gabriel Landeskog outmuscled Brandon Hagel to deposit the rebound into the net at 7:47 to put Colorado up 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, the Avalanche doubled their lead.
After Nathan MacKinnon caused a turnover to keep the puck in the Tampa Bay zone, Nichushkin fired a shot that beat Vasilevskiy five-hole to give Colorado a 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay answered back with a Nick Paul goal at 12:26, but then a pair of tripping calls put the Lightning right back in the line of fire.
Penalties to Mikhail Sergachev & Anthony Cirelli gave the Avalanche a 5-on-3 power play for 1:33 and they eventually cashed in when Arttturi Lehkonen was able to score at 17:31 to give Colorado a two-goal advantage once again.
The Lightning seemed to find their groove in the 2nd period, and just after the midway point they struck quickly....twice.
Following an incredible passing sequence between the two, Nikita Kucherov found Ondrej Palat on the doorstep and he found the back of the net to make it 3-2 at 12:51. Just 48 seconds later, Mikhail Sergachev threw a puck on net from the right point that found its way past Kuemper to tie the score at three apiece.
After six goals through two, neither team was able to score in the 3rd period. The Avalanche did have a glorious chance at the end of regulation, when Pat Maroon was whistled for a delay of game penalty with just 1:24 left, but the Lightning were able to kill off the penalty as it carried over into OT.
Vasilevskiy made 34 saves in defeat for Tampa Bay.
- Colorado - Landeskog - (Rantanen, Byram) - 7:47
- Colorado - Nichushkin - (MacKinnon) - 9:23
- Tampa Bay - Paul - (Hedman, Point) - 12:26
- Colorado - PPG - Lehkonen - (Rantanen, Landeskog) - 17:31
- Tampa Bay - Palat - (Kucherov, McDonagh) - 12:51
- Tampa Bay - Sergachev - (Hagel, Cirelli) - 13:39
- Colorado - Burakovsky - (Nichushkin, Compher) - 1:23
- Colorado - Manson - (Holding the Stick) - 5:07
- Tampa Bay - Sergachev - (Tripping) - 15:53
- Tampa Bay - Cirelli - (Tripping) - 16:20
- Tampa Bay - Maroon - (Roughing) - 3:41
- Colorado - Maroon - (Roughing) - 3:41
- Colorado - TEAM - (Too Many Men) - 6:28
- Colorado - O'Connor - (High Sticking) - 5:48
- Tampa Bay - Maroon - (Delay of Game) - 18:36
What's Next For The Bolts : The Lightning are back in action on Saturday night here in Denver as they battle the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Puck drop is slated for 8:00pm with the pregame show starting at 7:00pm on NewsRadio WFLA & Lightning Power Play on the iHeartRadio app.
PHOTO : Getty Images