The Colorado Avalanche have earned their chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
On Monday night, the Avalanche stormed back from a two-goal deficit to tie what turned out to be an exciting Game 4 at fives, before eventually scoring the game-winner on a highly-contested play just 1:19 into the overtime period.
Having given up a few questionable goals over the Oilers’ postseason run, no one could fault Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith on the overtime winner. Off a Darren Helm face-off win, stud defenceman Cale Maker put a long-range point-shot on net, to which Artturi Lehkonen redirected down on goal, and then collected the rebound and tucked it into the open cage, singlehandedly silencing the stunned crowd at Rogers Place.
“It was a good bounce,” Lehkonen said post-game. “I got a tip on the first shot and then it bounced right on my tape.”
The goal was reviewed for a high stick, but the evidence provided was inconclusive, sending the Oilers home and the Avalanche to a blind date with the Stanley Cup on the line.
Colorado opted to touch the Clarence Campbell Bowl in advance of its photoshoot with the Western Conference championship trophy, throwing aside any sense of a superstition associated with the prestigious trophy.
Of the six Avalanche goals scored on the night, Makar had points on five of them, including four assists. He became the only defenceman in NHL history to have five points in a series clinching playoff game. Captain Gabriel Landeskog also scored once and added two helpers. Relief goaltender Pavel Francouz had 30 stops on the night en route to the 6-5 victory.
Leon Draisaitl had four points, while Connor McDavid had three, but the Oilers just couldn’t find a way to find a victory in the best-of-seven series.
“I liked that there was no quit,” McDavid said. “I don’t think anyone quit out there, no one quit on each other. That’s always a good sign, but we, obviously, let it get away.”
All Colorado needed was four games. All Edmonton needed was a goal in overtime to get right back in the series, but just couldn’t make it happen.
“I’m proud of the group to get to this point, I don’t think anyone necessarily expected us to be here,” Draisaitl said. “With that being said, we expected to be here, and we want to be here, and we want to be even further. I’m proud of the group, but it’s very disappointing and it [stinks] right now. But we have to make sure that we come back next season and understand how hard it is to win, what it takes to go on a deep run, and take that next step.”
Now the Avalanche will face the victor of the Tampa Bay Lighting/New York Rangers Eastern Conference Final series, to which the Rangers lead 2-1. Game 4 is set to be played from Amalie Arena at 7:00 PM central time on Tuesday.