Nazem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche could not have scripted a more thrilling return.
Out with a thumb injury since game four of the Western Conference Final against Edmonton, Kadri made his first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final more than memorable. His goal at 12:02 of overtime gave the Avalanche a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and moved the Avs to within one win of the Stanley Cup.
The Avs now hold a 3-1 series lead.
Tampa Bay struck first and struck quickly. Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game, getting a rebound past Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper, who lost his helmet in the pace of the play in front of the net.
Colorado evened the game on Nathan MacKinnon's power play goal at 5:17 of the second period. The puck glanced off his skate and past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was MacKinnon's first goal of the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay got a backhand goal from defenseman Victor Hedman nearly five-and-a-half minutes later and the Lightning was back in front, 2-1.
That lead stood until Nico Sturm drove to the net and chipped a rebound off his teammate Andrew Cogliano for the tying goal two minutes and 53 seconds into the third period.
In overtime, the Avalanche dominated play, creating all kinds of chances before Kadri scored.
Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper was back in net after a sub-par night in game three. Kuemper was terrific, making 35 saves on 37 shots to keep the Avs in the game.
The Avs will try to clinch the series in game five on Friday, June 24 at Ball Arena. Faceoff will be a little after 6 p.m. MDT.