TAMPA — Jon Cooper rarely struggles to find the right words, but the Lightning coach stepped to the podium late Wednesday and waged a visible battle with his emotions while gathering his thoughts.
His team’s dream of making history now hangs by a thread, the Lightning on the brink of losing the Stanley Cup final with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Avalanche in Game 4 at Amalie Arena.
The Avalanche lead the series three games to one. Game 5 is Friday at Denver.
The Lightning had their opportunities to win, dominating the Avalanche early while taking a quick lead, but they couldn’t put the Avalanche away. They battled injuries into overtime, playing with just five healthy defensemen a good chunk of the night.
And moments after watching Colorado celebrate following forward Nazem Kadri’s goal with 7:58 remaining in overtime, Cooper was distraught.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper addresses the media after losing 3-2 in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Cooper didn’t provide details for his view, but the Lightning believed Kadri’s goal was scored with too many Colorado men on the ice. Screen shots showed six Colorado skaters were on the ice as Kadri closed in on the goal before beating Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. A video angle also showed forward Nathan MacKinnon going slowly to the bench after Kadri jumped over the boards.
Despite wearing the bull’s-eye that comes with chasing a three-peat,…