Andre Burakovsky offers Avalanche thrilling extra time win over Lightning in Sport 1 of Stanley Cup Closing

DENVER – The Stanley Cup Closing see-saw lifted Colorado’s manner within the first interval Wednesday night time and it swung again arduous in favor of Tampa Bay within the second.

Then, for greater than a interval and into extra time of Sport 1, the board leveled out, a heavyweight leaning on every finish.

In the long run, although, it was precision greater than brute drive that decided the winner: A flick of the wrist from Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky, off a one-touch go from Valeri Nichushkin in transition after a impartial zone turnover, that despatched the puck previous Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and the sport into franchise lore.

The opening salvo on this championship quest: Colorado 4, Tampa Bay 3 in extra time.

“I noticed (Colorado ahead J.T.) Compher received the puck within the impartial zone and I used to be simply attempting to get out as fast as doable,” Burakovsky stated of the ultimate sequence. “I received again in and so they made a fantastic play to me. It was only for me to shoot it and fortunate it went in.”

This metropolis waited 21 years for the Stanley Cup Closing to return and when the second lastly arrived, it did so in traditional vogue. Burakovsky’s game-winner capped what was the twentieth finals-opening sport to require further time, and the ninety fifth finals extra time sport general.

On this night time, a good first 60 minutes was the results of every group having a dominant stretch.

Andre Burakovsky celebrates with teammates after lifting the Colorado Avalanche to victory in Sport 1 of the Stanley Cup Closing.

The Western Convention champion Avalanche, enjoying for the primary time in 9 days since capping a sweep of Edmonton within the Western Convention ultimate on June 6, jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in entrance of a raucous house crowd.

The Tampa Bay Lighting, winners of not solely the Jap Convention but in addition the previous two Stanley Cups, leveled the sport within the second interval with back-to-back objectives in 48 seconds, together with one on the finish of a blinding sequence from wingers Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

“Going into the third interval even, I feel any man on our group would have taken that going into Sport 1,” Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram stated. “We’ve received an opportunity to win and I assumed we performed a extremely good third, created some probabilities, after which we received it finished in extra time.”

Additional time got here after the groups performed even for the ultimate 26:21 of regulation. Burakovsky lastly broke the stalemate 1:23 into extra time.

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Colorado, cautious of accumulating rust throughout its lengthy wait in latest days, blasted out of the gate, driving a surge of power from the 19,092 at Ball Area to an early penalty kill, even energy objectives from captain Gabriel Landeskog, Nichushkin and a five-on-three conversion by Artturi Lehkonen, which got here on the finish of a stretch of greater than 70 consecutive seconds of offensive zone possession.

The ability-play objective got here shortly after Tampa Bay had pulled inside 2-1 and reestablished Colorado’s management of the sport via the opening 20 minutes.

“I used to be fairly nervous all day and, popping out for warmups, the followers have been wonderful,” stated Landeskog, who has been with the franchise because it drafted him No. 2 general in 2011. “You’re attempting to benefit from the second as a lot as you’ll be able to, however you’re human and the nerves are there. That’s OK, you’ve simply received to cope with it and I assumed, as a group, we did a very good job of that tonight.”

No person makes it this far into the season with out being able to profitable in a number of methods, however broadly talking, essentially the most tantalizing factor of this matchup is Colorado’s high-flying offense towards Vasilevskiy’s world-class work in internet.

Getting into Sport 1, Colorado had scored 65 objectives in 14 postseason video games, pacing the postseason subject. The Lightning, behind Vasilevskiy, misplaced the primary two video games within the Jap Convention ultimate to the New York Rangers after which reeled off 4 straight wins whereas permitting simply 5 objectives complete.

Colorado confirmed the velocity and ability that has propelled its 13-2 postseason document to this point, placing three pucks previous Vasilevskiy on 15 first-period pictures whereas largely retaining the strain off of its personal goalie, Darcy Kuemper, who returned to the lineup for the primary time since Sport 1 of the Western Convention ultimate.

Previous the midpoint of the second interval, although, the Lightning tied the sport in a blink.

Vasilevskiy stopped a clear Nichushkin blast from the best circle and veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh pushed the puck to the center of the ice the place Palat and Kucherov took over. Palat left the puck for Kucherov close to the blue line and the ahead put a elegant mixture of strikes on Colorado defenseman Devon Toews, working to his backhand after which flipping the puck again throughout Kuemper’s face, the place Palat buried it to attract the Lightning inside 3-2 with 7:09 remaining within the interval.

Kucherov’s line has been formidable all 12 months and all postseason. Palat’s objective was his ninth of those playoffs, whereas Kucherov added a seventeenth help to his seven conversions.

Simply 48 seconds later, Tampa Bay defenseman Mikhail Sergachev snapped a wrist shot previous Kuemper.

“The objectives we gave up and the probabilities we gave up, we made some massive errors on,” Colorado head coach Jared Bednar stated.

By that point, Vasilevskiy had settled in. He stopped Compher on a clear look in behind the protection. He moved laterally and dealt with site visitors. After permitting the trio of early objectives, he stopped the following 22 pictures over the ultimate 42:21 to shut regulation.

Each goaltenders made performs down the stretch. Kuemper helped the Avalanche kill off a key penalty within the third interval and all three short-handed sequences on the night time.

“Darcy’s been a rock on the PK all playoffs,” Byram stated. “He made a few enormous saves, which we want typically. Your goalie needs to be your finest penalty killer. He got here up enormous.”

Vasilevskiy helped the Lightning stave off a frantic ultimate 1:24 of regulation down a person after which the opening 36 seconds of extra time, as nicely, earlier than Burakovsky lastly put the primary sport within the books for Colorado seconds later.

“The precise group gained the sport,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper stated. “Give them credit score for pulling it out. We’ve received higher in us, although. I don’t assume by a rustic mile we performed our greatest sport.”

The Lightning have been right here earlier than. They misplaced their first-round opener to Toronto and the primary two to the Rangers within the East finals. The 2-time defending champs must play from behind once more this 12 months if they’re to turn into the primary group to win three straight titles for the reason that New York Islanders gained 4 in a row from 1980-83.

“We’ve not made it this far over the previous couple of years as a result of we are able to’t execute,” Cooper stated. “It simply didn’t occur for us tonight, however we’re nonetheless proper there. … We’ll be again right here in a few days.”

This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: Stanley Cup Sport 1: Colorado Avalanche beat Tampa Bay Lightning in OT