Nazem Kadri puts Avalanche on cusp of a title with OT winner in Game 4

TAMPA — The overtime hero Wednesday night at Amalie Arena was playing his first game since thumb surgery. The procedure had affected Colorado center Nazem Kadri’s ability to shoot the puck — or at least it did for the first 72 minutes of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But with 7:58 remaining in overtime, Kadri found some daylight, then beat Andrei Vasilevskiy high over the goalie’s right shoulder, with the puck planting itself in the netting, briefly out of sight so that neither Kadri nor the home crowd realized the game had ended. But as reality set in, the Avalanche had a 3-2 win that put it firmly in control of the best-of-seven series with a 3-1 lead.

“It was certainly a few seconds of confusion there and then I saw everyone bull rush the ice,” Kadri said.

Adding to the confusion: Replays and even the official NHL box score issued to reporters after the game suggested the Avalanche had six skaters on the ice during the winning goal, an apparent infraction that went unnoticed on the ice. But as Amalie Arena sat in stunned silence, Colorado celebrated at center ice, Avalanche players fully aware that they can close out the series Friday night in Denver.

Of his surgically repaired thumb, a grinning Kadri said: “Felt good enough. Everyone is dealing with bumps and bruises this time of year and I just tried…

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