Three stars from the Avs’ 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday at Amalie Arena:
Nazem Kadri, C, Avalanche — Garbage ice. Sweet winner. Kadri’s remarkable postseason story adds another remarkable chapter with No. 91’s breakaway wrister for the top-shelf goal to end OT in Tampa. It was a poetic finish for the Avs’ most dynamic forward of the last six weeks. A game-winner in his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. A game-winner just a few hours after he’d raised eyebrows on Twitter by telling ESPN after the first period that the ice at Amalie Arena was “kind of garbage.” After that line, who else could’ve been the one to finish this?
Nathan MacKinnon, C, Avalanche — The drought is over! It took a weird bounce off his skate to do it, but the Avs’ offensive bell cow finally got on the board for the first time this series thanks to a power play goal 5:17 into the second period. A deflection off No. 29’s blade squirted past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to knot the game at 1-1, shocking the Amalie Arena crowd into a stunned murmur.
Nico Sturm, C, Avalanche — Andrew Cogliano was eventually credited with the goal, but fellow fourth-liner (and trade-deadline acquisition) Sturm made the magic happen early in the third period with a scrappy rebound that tied the game at 2-all. Through the game’s first 50 minutes, the 6-foot-3 center was tied for the team lead in takeaways (two), despite featuring on a roster-low 11 shifts up to that point in the action.