The Colorado Avalanche reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since their 2001 championship on Monday, shredding their reputation of a highly talented team that disappointed in the playoffs.
They staged a furious third-period comeback and won in overtime on a goal by trade deadline acquisition Artturi Lehkonen to sweep the Edmonton Oilers with a 6-5 victory in Game 4.
The Avalanche will face the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-New York Rangers series. The Rangers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final 2-1 with Game 4 on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Tampa.
Colorado overcame deficits of 3-1 and 4-2 on goals by Devon Toews, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen to go ahead before Zack Kassian forced overtime. Cale Makar, who scored in the first period, had three assists in the third period.
Though the Avalanche stars dominated in regulation of Game 4, it was moves made at the trade deadline that helped turn Colorado into Western Conference champions.
General manager Joe Sakic, the captain of the 2001 team, acquired defenseman Josh Manson to add grit on the blue line and brought in forwards Lehkonen, Nico Sturm and Andrew Cogliano to aid the penalty killing.
They joined stars MacKinnon, Makar, Landeskog and Rantanen to form a powerhouse that needed 14 games to get past the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Oilers.
And the depth helped them survive key injuries. Defenseman Sam Girard was hurt in the second round and No. 2 center Nazem Kadri missed Game 4 after being shoved into the boards in Game 3.
TSN reported that he had thumb surgery and his status for the Cup Final is uncertain.
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Rangers hopeful two forwards can play in Game 4
The Rangers came out of Sunday’s 3-2 loss in Game 3 with their center depth ailing, but head coach Gerard Gallant is hopeful that neither Barclay Goodrow nor Ryan Strome will miss any time.
Strome’s lower-body injury came on his first shift of the second period, as he was lightly shoved from behind by Lightning forward Ondrej Palat and appeared to awkwardly plant on his right leg. He came out for one more 36-second shift, but could not continue beyond that.
“He should be fine,” Gallant said following Monday’s optional practice at Amalie Arena. “We’ll see (Tuesday). … But we fully expect him to play.”
Goodrow was hurt during the third period when he blocked a shot from Victor Hedman.
Despite the obvious pain, the 29-year-old went to the locker room and was back on the ice for his next shift just 2:23 later.
“It hurt a little bit, but Barclay’s a competitor,” Gallant said. “He comes back and plays. That’s what he does.”
Jets Kyle Connor wins Lady Byng Trophy
Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor has won the Lady Byng Trophy, given to the NHL’s most gentlemanly player.
The league announced the honor Monday night before Game 4 of the Western Conference final.
Connor tied for the second-fewest number of minor penalties during the regular season. He was penalized just twice in more than 1,700 minutes of ice time that included regular short-handed shifts and matchups against top offensive opponents.
It’s his first time winning the Lady Byng. Last year’s winner, Carolina defenseman Jaccob Slavin, was second in voting by the Professional Hockey Writer Association. Minnesota captain Jared Spurgeon was third.
Contributing: Vincent Z. Mercogliano, Northjersey.com; Associated Press