Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar wants his team to use their "nervous energy and emotion" in Game 5 as they aim to secure their first Stanley Cup in more than 20 years.

The Avs lead the Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 after a crucial 3-2 win in overtime in Game 4, courtesy of a controversial Nazem Kadri goal when Colorado had six players on the ice.

Colorado can seal their third Stanley Cup and first since 2001 with a victory over the Lightning, having started the series with two wins on home ice before they were thrashed 6-2 in Game 3.

Bednar expects heightened emotions among his players, with title celebrations looming, but does not want them to shy away from those feelings.

"You always hear about controlled emotion. I'm kind of the opposite with our team," Bednar told reporters.

"Besides running around and getting out of our game plan, I want us to use our energy and nervous energy and emotion to go play the game with passion, play hard and stay on our toes and getting after it.

"That's my message to our team, has been all year. I want to harness that. I want our team to get on the attack.

"Every game the whole season long, it was the same type of preparation as today."

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expects All-Star Nikita Kucherov to play in Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday despite an injury concern.

Kucherov exited Game 3 on Monday, as the Lightning won 6-2 over the Colorado Avalanche, with 6:05 remaining in the third period after a push from Devon Toews.

The Russian tangled with Toews after being slammed into the ice and boards and was involved in the ensuing power play but left hobbling for the trainers' room soon after.

"As I sit right now, I think he can play tomorrow," Cooper told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I'm not Kuch. If I know Kuch, he's sitting there saying the same thing. But we'll see what the doctors and everybody says."

Kucherov has been the Lightning's leading points scorer over this season's Stanley Cup playoffs, adding seven goals to his 19 assists.

The 29-year-old has been a creative force for the reigning Stanley Cup champions in important moments this post-season, namely his extraordinary game-winning backhand assist for Ross Colton in Game 2 against the Florida Panthers to set up a 2-0 series lead.

Cooper added: "I think so. I hope so. It's always difficult when the game is 12 hours ago or whatever it was. A lot can happen over the next two days.

"Am I glad there's a day off between games? Yes. We'll see how he is tomorrow."

Cooper said that Kucherov has played through pain before, including in the 2021 playoffs when he had a cracked rib.

The Lightning, who are chasing a rare Stanley Cup three-peat, trail 2-1 in the series after losing both games in Colorado.

Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews was awarded both the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award as the NHLPA's most outstanding player at the NHL Awards on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old scored 60 goals this season to claim his second Rocket Richard Trophy, and was one of only eight players in the league to break the 100-point barrier with 106, the highest single-season total of his career.

While beating Edmonton Oilers centre Connor McDavid and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin for his first Hart Trophy, Matthews became the first Maple Leafs player to win the Ted Lindsay Award, a vote conducted by the NHL's players since 1971.

A Hart Trophy finalist in 2021, losing out to McDavid, the Maple Leafs centre secured 119 first-place votes and 49 second-place votes.

"Congrats to Igor, Connor on amazing seasons," Matthews said in his Hart Trophy acceptance speech. "Like I said before, so much respect for you guys, you guys are incredible at what you do."

Meanwhile, he is only the second American-born player to win the Ted Lindsay Award following Patrick Kane in 2016.

"My family, it means the world to me to have you guys here with me, thank you guys for just your unwavering support," Matthews said in his acceptance speech earlier for the Ted Lindsay Award.

"It just means a lot to be recognised by my fellow peers and the guys that I compete against every single night, battle against. It just means a lot.

"I want to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs, from top to bottom. Management, ownership, coaches, all the staff, every single one of my team-mates, this doesn't happen without you guys, so thank you."

The Tampa Bay Lightning have injected life into the Stanley Cup Final with a crucial 6-2 home win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3.

A Lightning loss would have given the Avalanche a near-insurmountable 3-0 series lead, but by getting the job done on their home ice, the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions pegged the margin back to 2-1, with Game 4 also at home.

After a crushing 7-0 loss to the Avalanche in Game 2, the visitors threatened to put the series to bed by opening the scoring through a Gabriel Landeskog goal eight minutes in, but the Lightning would respond this time.

Anthony Cirelli was the man to find the back of the net and tie the game later in the first period, before Ondrej Palat got on the end of a Steven Stamkos pass to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the first break.

The two sides traded early goals as Nicholas Paul put the home side up 3-1 briefly, before Landeskog's second kept it a one-goal game – and then the Lightning took over.

A seven-minute barrage saw Tampa Bay add three quick goals to Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry, giving the hosts plenty of breathing room and allowing them to turn the third period into a scoreless grind to come out with the victory.

Speaking to ESPN after the win, Stamkos said his side has too much self-belief to listen to those who had them written off after a couple of tough games away from home.

"They can say whatever we want – we know what we have in our dressing room," he said.

"We knew coming back home that we play well in front of our fans, and it was a great comeback tonight.

"It's a tough place to play in Colorado – they have a great team, they come out strong, they come out fast. But like I said the other day, we can do that on home ice too.

"It's a series now, and we've got some work to do between now and next game, but we've got another game at home and we'll look to continue this game that we played tonight."

Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was not willing to overreact to the loss – his side's first road defeat of the playoffs so far, entering the contest 7-0 away from home.

"We're going to lose games," he said. "We've won every game on the road, so I guess we were kind of due for a tough night.

"It wasn't all bad – I thought we did a lot of good things. We controlled the play a lot, but every mistake we made they capitalised on, and that's how they play.

"They're a really, really good team, obviously – I don't have to say that – so we've got to be sharper."

Andre Burakovsky's status for Monday's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals is uncertain after the Colorado Avalanche forward suffered an injury in Saturday's 7-0 rout of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Burakovsky is being evaluated and will not travel with the team to Tampa but is expected to join the club in Florida on Monday. 

Burakovsky was injured in Game 2 after being hit on the hand by a Victor Hedman shot early in the second period. 

Before exiting, Burakovsky assisted on Colorado's first goal and scored one of his own just under 11 minutes later to help the Avs take an early 3-0 lead. He also scored the overtime winner in Game 1. 

This is the second time Burakovsky has been injured in the playoffs after he missed Games 2 and 3 of the Western Conference final against the Edmonton Oilers with a leg injury sustained while blocking a shot in the series opener. 

After setting career highs with 22 goals and 39 assists during the regular season, Burakovsky has been playing on Colorado's second line in place of Nazem Kadri, who injured his right thumb in Game 3 of the Oilers series.

Kadri has not played since after undergoing surgery, but is travelling with the team and is considered day to day, according to Bednar. 

"We're hopeful we'll see him at some point," Bednar said. "But I'm not sure about Game 3 or Game 4." 

After winning Games 1 and 2 on home ice, Colorado are two victories away from securing their first Stanley Cup since 2001. 

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was still coming to terms with a franchise record loss after the two-time defending champions were drubbed 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Colorado Avalanche.

Three days on from a close-fought Game 1 loss, the Florida outfit were soundly smashed at Ball Arena as they capitulated to leave an arduous path back to a third consecutive title.

After an overtime clash before that indicated a tight postseason battle for hockey's biggest prize, the Lightning were no match for the Avs, suffering their largest ever playoff defeat.

"Am I shocked that we lost seven-zip?" Stamkos stated. "I mean, I don't think we saw that coming.

"We have a game plan, and it's trying to neutralise their speed and their forecheck. And we've gotten away from it a little bit at times, and it cost us."

Stamkos in particular said the team owed an apology to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who suffered a torrid night as the Avs ran rampant.

"We left him out to dry tonight," he added. "He's been our backbone for years and years and years. We owe it to him to have a better game next game. By no means is this on him tonight."

This was just the fifth instance of the defending Stanley Cup champions falling 2-0 behind in a Finals series, with only the 1966 Detroit Red Wings recovering to take the title again.

Meanwhile, the 1980 New York Islanders are the sole team to have allowed 11 or more goals through two games and still won the Finals.

But with two games back home to restore parity, the Lightning are adamant that they are not out of the picture yet.

"It takes a great team to realise the mistakes that we've made," Stamkos added. "And I have full confidence in this group that we'll have a much better effort.

"Listen, people are going to be watching this game tonight and probably think the series is over. But we're a very resilient group. We were in this position last round.

"So, whether it's 1-0 or 7-0 or 10-0, it's a loss in the playoffs. We've got to man up as a team. Let's get back home in front of our fans, and let's see what we're made of."

Defenseman Victor Hedman added: "At the end of day, we lost the game, not the series."

The Colorado Avalanche took complete control of the Stanley Cup Finals with a sensational 7-0 win in Game 2 that coach Jared Bednar considered almost flawless.

The Avs had beaten the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in overtime in the series opener, but there were no such fine margins on Saturday.

Colorado put seven past Andrei Vasilevskiy, marking the fourth time this postseason they have scored seven in a game. Only the Edmonton Oilers (six games in both 1984 and 1985) have topped that feat.

This was also just the third instance in Finals history of a team winning by seven or more goals while registering a shutout, following the 1919 Seattle Metropolitans' 7-0 Game 1 win over the Montreal Canadiens and the 1991 Pittsburgh Penguins' clinching 8-0 Game 6 win over the Minnesota North Stars.

It was little surprise then that Bednar was left struggling to identify ways in which his dominant Avs team could improve.

"It was certainly as close to perfect of a game as you can get from your players," he said.

"Coming out of Game 1, we were dangerous offensively, but I thought there was another step for our group. We evaluated that, we showed them some things, and they did a nice job.

"And on the defensive side, we were way better tonight. It wasn't even close.

"I thought we made some big mistakes that led to goals against in Game 1. We got better in those areas, amongst others."

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper joined his team-mates in impressing, but he faced only 16 shots – the fewest the Lightning have generated in a playoff game this year.

"[We are] hungry on the defensive side of things, trying to win as many races as we can, as many battles as we can, getting above pucks and making it difficult," Bednar added.

"It's part of our identity and who we are. Our guys have been doing it all year, and they're continuing to do it. Tonight, they did it better than we usually do."

The Colorado Avalanche were betting favourites headed into the Stanley Cup Final against the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 only strengthened their position.

Even at home, the Avs are not counting on Wednesday's win carrying over to Saturday's Game 2.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar indicated as much in the build-up to the clash at Ball Arena.

"I would say in this situation, I don't believe a lot in [momentum]," Bednar said. "Like, it's Stanley Cup Finals. We know we're going to see Tampa's best game. They'll be better than they were in Game 1."

The Avalanche got off to a hot start on Wednesday, holding leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but the Lightning weathered the storm and rallied to force overtime - a point not lost on Bednar.

"There are a lot of areas, for me, that we can be a lot better than we were in Game 1," the sixth-year coach said. "We approach it the same way we did in Game 1.

"I expect our guys to be energised and ready to go. It's an extra day's rest, they'll be the same way. It'll be about the detail in our game and how hard we can compete. The last part of that is the execution."

Despite the Lightning holding the advantage in playoff pedigree and experience, Bednar was proud of his young team for responding on hockey's biggest stage.

"Honestly, I feel like our team has kind of been there all along. I never felt that the moment was going to be too big for us, coming into this thing," Bednar said.

"Right from the finish of the Edmonton series, our guys, we told them to enjoy it for a couple of days, get away, but if you talk to any of our individuals, they'll say the same thing: 'Job's not done.'

"We've got a lot of work to do. It's going to be a tough series, and I feel like we've been focused on that. I don't think anyone's patting themselves on the back for being here. It's not the type of mentality we've had from day one of training camp."

The Lightning and coach Jon Cooper, meanwhile, are not panicking after dropping Game 1 and would be content to return to Tampa Bay with the series tied headed into Monday's Game 3.

"It's about winning the series, it's not about winning Game 1," Cooper said. "Yeah, would we like to win every single game? There's no question. But we've also started out on the road for all four series, so the fact that we've won one of them is kind of a bonus on our side. But it's about winning the series."

The Lightning are in familiar territory, needing to battle back for a series win. Tampa Bay dropped Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final before rallying to beat the Dallas Stars in six games.

This year's squad overcame Game 1 losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.

Colorado Avalanche star Cale Makar reflected on a thrilling Game 1 win of the Stanley Cup Final in front of his home fans, but said he is wary of the adjustments coming from the reigning back-to-back champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In a see-sawing contest, the Avalanche jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, before two Lightning goals in under a minute levelled it at 3-3 halfway through the second period.

The third frame was a hard-fought, scoreless battle, setting up a next-goal-wins finish less than 90 seconds into overtime by Andre Burakovsky.

Makar, who has 22 points in 15 playoff games as a defenseman and spent a game-high 28 minutes on the ice in Wednesday's series opener, told ESPN that the atmosphere in the building was like nothing he had experienced.

"It's incredible," he said. "Obviously the fans tonight were insane – I didn't think they could up the level from the past few rounds, but they were able to do that. 

"It was definitely electric in that building, and it's incredible playing with a great group of guys in the Final like this."

While he was thrilled with the result, his attention quickly turned to the championship pedigree of the Lightning, and why the Avalanche need to be near-perfect to deny them a three-peat.

"Obviously great teams like them are going to find ways to exploit us defensively," he said.

"You look at their one goal where [Nikita] Kucherov goes around [Devon] Toews, and feeds [Ondrej] Palat backdoor.

"I mean I knew he was going backdoor the whole time, I just wasn't there, so overall it's about staying more mentally prepared and giving them a few less chances than they had."

He added: "They're a great team, they're going to come out with a different game plan, which I'm sure will be beneficial for them.

"We just have to be prepared for that, and obviously we're going to come up with a game plan with what they came at us with tonight. You have to adjust, and that's just the way the playoffs go. 

"In order to beat great teams you have to do it, and [Tampa Bay have] been successful in that in years prior, so hopefully we can limit those improvements they make game-to-game."

The Avalanche are now 13-2 this postseason – winners of six games in a row – and have comfortably been the most potent offensive side in their run to the Final. 

Averaging 4.6 goals per game, Colorado are well clear of the Pittsburgh Penguins (4.14) and the Edmonton Oilers (4.06), with another big gap to the fourth-placed Toronto Maple Leafs (3.43). The Lightning are eighth this postseason at 3.06.

Tampa Bay have instead been getting it done defensively, conceding just 2.5 goals per game, trailing only the Dallas Stars (2.14) who were eliminated in the first round. Crucially, the Avalanche have also excelled in their defensive end, conceding 2.87 per game.

When asked if the red-hot Avalanche have started to think about lifting the Stanley Cup, Makar said it is far too early for that.

"Not yet – I feel like, overall, this team has been so great at staying in the moment, especially success-wise, not looking too far ahead," he said.

"I feel if we start looking too far ahead then this is a team that's going to exploit those little mental lapses, like they did tonight.

"For us it's just staying mentally locked in on each game, and not focusing on the future, just focusing on what we can control in the present."

Andre Burakovsky called it a dream come true to score the overtime match-winner in the Colorado Avalanche's 4-3 home victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It was a terrific start for the Avalanche, going up 2-0 in the first 10 minutes through goals to Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin.

Nicholas Paul pegged one back for the Lightning, but Artturi Lehkonen struck on the power play to close the first period, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead heading into the first break.

After a relatively even start to the second, the Lightning turned the game on its head with two goals in under a minute, courtesy of Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev.

It set up a tense third period, with neither team able to find a winner before the end of regulation, but Burakovsky was not willing to stick around all night, netting the golden-goal winner just 83 seconds into overtime to send the home fans into raptures.

Speaking to ESPN immediately after the win, Burakovsky said it was a special moment, and even more so to do it in front of the screaming Colorado faithful.

"It feels amazing," he said. "I think we really battled through this whole game.

"We had a bit of a mental breakdown in the second period, but I think we bounced back in the third – an awesome job by the boys.

"I don't think we were hard enough at pucks, we were not winning races in the second period, giving them too much room. In the third, we bounced back and really fought through it, doing all the right things.

"[Before overtime] we just said keep going like we played in the third, send pucks to the net and take the rebounds. We feel confident about our game, and I think that's exactly what we did.

"These fans are amazing – they've been amazing the entire year for us – this is great, this is a dream since I was a kid."

While Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was happy with the win, he stressed he expects a strong response from the Lightning.

"We're playing a really good team, and they’re not going to roll over and lay back," he said. "They're going to have to push back."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper – who led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups from the past two seasons – said he knows what it takes to get the job done, and his side did not bring it in Game 1.

"There’s some positive signs for us in this game – but the right team won the game, so give them credit for pulling it out," he said.

"I don't think by a country mile we gave them our best game. To beat a team like that, we need to have better in us."

When the Tampa Bay Lightning begin their quest for a third straight Stanley Cup championship on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche, they will have the NHL's leading goalscorer from each of the last two playoffs on the ice as center Brayden Point is set to return from a lower-body injury.

"Pointer looks like he's a go," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said after Wednesday's morning skate in Denver.

Point, who was second on the Lightning with 28 goals during the regular season, has been out since getting hurt early in Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Point recorded two goals in the opening round after leading the NHL with 14 goals in each of the last two postseasons for the two-time defending champion Lightning.

His 60 points in 53 games over the past three playoffs rank second in the league behind teammate Nikita Kucherov, who has racked up 89 points in 65 contests.

Tampa Bay is looking to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cup championships since the New York Islanders captured four titles in a row from 1979-83.

The Lightning are 12-5 this postseason after finishing as the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

Colorado is searching for its first title since 2000-01 after its 119 points this season led the Western Conference and set a franchise record. The top-seeded Avalanche are 12-2 in these playoffs.

Just over a week after he was fired by the Boston Bruins, Bruce Cassidy has been hired as the next coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Cassidy guided the Bruins to the playoffs in each of his seasons and compiled a 245-108-46 record during his tenure in Boston. He led the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018-19 before losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games.

In the following season, Cassidy won the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the league after the Bruins finished with the NHL’s best record (44-14-12).

Despite that success and coming off a 51-26-5 record this past season, Cassidy was fired on June 6, a month after the Bruins lost a seven-game first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

"The Golden Knights are very pleased to have Bruce come in to coach our team," Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said.

"His success in Boston over six years is extremely impressive. His teams have had a clear identity, having been among the very best in the NHL in terms of goals for, goals against, goal differential and special teams. This is the right coach for our team at this time."

Cassidy fills the opening left when Vegas fired Peter DeBoer on May 16 after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s five-year history.

"I am excited to join an organisation that shares my commitment to winning and can’t wait to work with the talent that has been assembled in Vegas," Cassidy said.

"It’s been impressive to watch the city embrace the Golden Knights from afar, and my family and I look forward to becoming a part of that."

Cassidy is 292-155-53 as a head coach in the NHL, also serving as the Washington Capitals coach for two seasons (2002-2004).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos revelled in his side's 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday, but insisted they will now face the best team in the NHL in the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Lightning will now face the Colorado Avalanche after winning Game 6 and the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday, with Stamkos scoring both goals.

The 32-year-old put the reigning Stanley Cup champions up half-way through the second period, but the game seemed headed for overtime after Frank Vatrano equalised during a power play in the third.

The Lightning captain responded with another goal almost straight from the restart, getting on the end of a Nikita Kucherov pass in space to put his side back in front, likening it to a dream scenario afterwards.

He is aware of what awaits in Tampa Bay's hopes for a third-straight Stanley Cup, however.

"These are the games you live for as a kid," Stamkos told ESPN post-game. "It was everything I thought it was going to be and more, to give ourselves a chance to go to the finals three years in a row is amazing.

"To have a part in it tonight was certainly icing on the cake. It was just an unbelievable team effort, we deserved this one and we got it.

"The hardest thing to do is to win the championship and this group has been in the trenches. We know what it takes, but now we've got the best team in the league in the Colorado Avalanche. They have it all, that's what teams aspire to be."

Sweeping the Florida Panthers in the second round, the Lightning had to tough it out against the Rangers after going down 2-0 in the series.

Claiming Game 5 in New York before closing the series out on Sunday, Stamkos praised his battle-hardened team's ability to stay calm in adversity against a tough opponent.

"We know we didn't play our best the first two," he said. "We had that long break and didn't want to use an excuse, and they [the Rangers] had a couple of hard-fought series. They were executing and we weren't.

"We stuck with it. There's no panic on this team and what an effort. Tonight was amazing. To rattle off four against that team at this time of the year, it's pretty impressive."

The Buffalo Sabres will honour long-time goaltender Ryan Miller by retiring his No. 30 jersey next season.

Miller joined the Sabres in 2002-03 and spent 10-plus seasons with the franchise, becoming Buffalo's leader in wins (284) and games played by a goaltender (540).

He went on to eventually set the record for wins by an American-born goalie (391) and retired after the 2020-21 season.

The team made the announcement by releasing a video on Friday, which showed Miller being informed of the honour while touring the Sabres' arena with his wife, mother, sister and two children.

The announcement coincided with Miller's trip to Buffalo where he took part in a news conference to discuss being inducted into the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame later this year.

"Ryan Miller embodied what people in Western New York expect from those who wear a Buffalo Sabres uniform: on-ice excellence, commitment, and authentic love for this community," Sabres general manager Kevyn Adam said.

"We are thrilled for Ryan to take his rightful place alongside his fellow Sabres legends and look forward to celebrating his career."

Miller, who also played for the St Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks, had his best season in 2009-10 when he won the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender and earned Olympic MVP honours for helping the United States to a silver medal at the Vancouver Games.

Miller joins NHL Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek as Sabres goalies to have their numbers retired. Miller's 391 career wins rank 14th in NHL history, two ahead of Hasek.

A New York Rangers fan has been banned for life from Madison Square Garden for punching a Tampa Bay Lightning fan in the face after Thursday's Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final.

Following the 3-1 Tampa Bay win that gave them a 3-2 series advantage, the Rangers fan and Lightning fan exchanged words while exiting the arena, police said.

A video surfaced on social media of the Rangers fan turning and punching the Lightning fan. He then struck another person who tried to intervene.

While the victim received assistance on the ground from witnesses, the assailant fled the arena.

Police confirmed that a 29-year-old Staten Island man was arrested for assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.

A Madison Square Garden statement released on Friday called the incident an "abhorrent assault."

"We are cooperating fully with law enforcement as this is now a criminal matter. The assailant will also be banned from The Garden and all other MSG venues for life," MSG said in its statement.

"All guests - no matter what team they support - should feel safe and respected in The Garden. This has and always will be our policy."

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