After the controversial goal, the avalanche on the way to winning the Stanley Cup

TAMPA, Fla. – The game that led Colorado’s avalanche to its first Stanley Cup win in more than two decades was over a minute or two ago, and behind the freight elevator at Amalie Arena. The Hockey Hall of Fame was staring. Straight ahead when these seven flights landed on the ice.

His face gave no indication of what he had just seen – the puck that disappeared, the confusion that reigned, the excitement that followed – or what it meant, the man who Collected the juggernaut of these NHL playoffs.

Before Wednesday night’s Final 4 game, it was Sack, now Avalanche’s general manager, who scored the franchise’s most memorable goal in a thousand years. He handed the distinction – happily, probably – to Nazim Qadri, whose shot of rush fooled everyone, including the lightning bullet Andrei Vasilyowski, the snowman, and a domestic crowd in Tampa accustomed to silence. Were

When finally caught in the net, Puck not only confirmed Colorado’s 3-2 overtime victory but also a key fact in this series and this post-season. The two-time defending champion in Lightning may be strong and resilient, but Colorado has been the top team.

Avalanche has played 18 playoff games and won 15. He swept Nashville, St. Louis and Edmonton – swept clean in the first and third rounds – before defeating Lightning three times, twice in overtime, both overtime. His speed and skill and special teams – seven goals from Tampa Bay – have overtaken Tampa Bay, as Sakik had hoped to advance in the series. On Wednesday, Kadri and five players scored within the previous year – and three ahead of the trade deadline – Andrew Kogliano, Nico Sturm and Arthur Lahkonen – combined for six points on the tie and the winning goal.

Colorado could win the cup with another win, such as Friday night in Denver, where a mile-high comfortable avalanche beat Lightning 11-3 in 11 and 2 games.

Obviously, they are probably preaching, ‘They never came here. They’re going to be tight, and that’s fair, “said Colorado Star Center’s Nathan McCann.” But we’re ready to go. We’ve been great under pressure all playoffs, all seasons.

McCann is right in every way. The perennial contender, Colorado, has not played for the Cup since 2001, when Sack scored a brilliant goal against the Devils in Game 7, or in the conference final since 2002. Despite joining the President’s Trophy last season, the NHL’s best record, including McCann, is proud of its tremendous pool of talent, whose advancement should be measured by seismograph. Defensive player Kyle McCarr, compared to Bobby, would be an insult if he weren’t. So amazing

Sometimes, though, in the tight pursuit of the cup, teams benefit from luck, events and circumstances, and enduring extreme pain: from facing fewer bullets in the first three rounds to Qadri’s surgically repaired right thumb To be able to rejoin in order to get enough work. Lineup after three weeks of absence.

Qadri said, “Just thinking that my job is done and then with a hope, just sitting here now, is a kind of reality,” Qadri added, “This is what I have been waiting for all my life. I’m doing. “

In Game 4 of the second-round victory over St. Louis, Qadri scored a hat-trick just hours after receiving racist death threats from fans, knocking out Blues goalkeeper Jordan Bennington from the series. In another Game 4 on Wednesday, Qadri ended a series that began with a sweet pass from goalkeeper Darcy Komper – who, feeling tired of lightning, was alert to push the pick-up ice – and The pickup passed by Wasilevsky. Or so it seemed.

For a few seconds, no one celebrated, the moment that gave birth to another opponent overtime game winner from the final, which Chicago’s Patrick Kane scored in 2010 to win the title over Philadelphia. Then Qadri started shaking his head, the bench started emptying and Lightning started skating with ice, his hopes for the third consecutive title are in jeopardy.

Even to reach this stage, they had to overtake the league’s two highest scoring teams, Toronto and Florida, and overcome a 2-0 series loss against the Rangers, all on the road. But every series was starting. To make matters worse, electricity must suppress an unholy trinity of despair: in overtime, at home, losing to a goal they shouldn’t have considered.

Walking into his post-game news conference, Tampa Bay coach John Cooper looked like he needed a strong drink, a hug or some time alone in a soundproof room with the staff – or all three. He raised a question before forgiving himself, looking defeated as he praised his team’s accomplishments in the pay cap era by coming up with a secret answer that challenged Qadri’s legitimacy. Suppresses families first.

“It’s going to sting a lot more than the others,” Cooper said, adding, “When you look at the winning goal, you’ll see what I mean. And my heart breaks for the players. Because we should probably still play.

As he reiterated on Thursday, Cooper, a former lawyer, claimed, based on a replay of recounting on social media, That there were too many men on the ice in Colorado when Qadri scored – that McCann was too tall, too far from the avalanche bench, when Qadri jumped. The league said in a statement issued Thursday morning by its hockey operations department that no official considered it a violation, and that the call was not subject to video review.

Although he said on Thursday that the team would have to move on, neither time Cooper naturally mentioned that Lightning benefited from a similar non-call from last post-season, when it seems that his Had an extra player on the ice for the goal that knocked out the Islanders. Game 7 of their semi-final series. In hockey, if not in life, these moments are completely gone, and neither the interpretation of a rule nor the irregularity of the puck can diminish Colorado’s authority in overtime, when he has had many other occasions. What was the goal?

The avalanche recorded a total of 75 shots with more power than lightning, according to the Natural State Track. They have 11 more high-risk scoring opportunities. He has emphasized Tampa Bay through the neutral zone and between the circles and below the goal line.

That’s how they’ve won all season, all post-season, and until Tampa Bay can call for one last push – and then another, and then another – the next time Sack will go down the ice lift, The Stanley Cup must be lifted. .

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