Avalanche advantage at special teams paves way for 3-1 Cup lead

TAMPA, Fla. — Once the third period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final arrived here Wednesday night, special teams went away. As expected, the referees let the little things go.

This game was going to be decided at even strength, and it was with Nazem Kadri’s overtime heroics giving the Avalanche a 3-2 victory and 3-1 series lead against Tampa Bay.

But in the 11-plus periods leading up to the third period and overtime in Game 4, the Avalanche has dominated special teams in this series, a big reason why they can clinch the Cup on Friday night. The Avs have won that comparison in all four games, including Game 4 when they went 1-of-2 on the power play and blanked the Lightning on the two man-advantage opportunities they had.

For the series, Colorado is 6-of-13 on the power play and has killed off 13 of 14 shorthanded situations.

“Without special teams, you’re not going to win in playoffs; you’re not going go as far as we have,” Avs center and primary penalty killer Nico Sturm said after the victory. “The thing is, we have full confidence in them. When our power play goes out, I think, ‘There’s a very good chance that we’re going to score right now.’ On the flip side, on the PK, there’s no panic, really, at all.

“We’re so confident in the guys that we have in both groups.”

Sturm assisted on linemate…

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