Tampa, Florida. – Nazim Qadri knows how to enter.
The Colorado Major League striker returned to the squad after thumb surgery in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay on Wednesday and the overtime winner scored a 3-2 victory for Avalanche, a 3-1 lead.
Now Colorado has a chance to score the organization’s first cup win since 2001 on the ice at home in Game Five on Friday. And Qadri, in the first cup final of his career, helped make it happen.
“She was volatile of feelings,” Qadri said. “Just thinking I’m done with a little hope and then sitting here now is kind of surreal. I was excited to be in the squad again and be in the dressing room. It’s what I’ve been waiting for my whole life, so it was definitely exciting to be back in the squad” .
Qadri became the ninth player in NHL history to score an extra goal in his first appearance in a Cup Final, and the first to do so after his “Game One” streak. He finished Game 4 with two shots on the net at 18:39 TOI.
Wednesday was Kadri’s first act since he boarded Evander Kane in Game Three of the Western Conference Final in Edmonton on June 4. Qadri needed surgery on his thumb after the play (in which Kane was suspended for one match) and only resumed his shots. earlier this week.
Although satisfied enough to return, Kadri seemed reluctant to release the puck early in the fourth match. He didn’t score a shot during his first two stints but seemed to be getting more confident as time went on. The match-winner came after several good chances – and a leading couple – for Colorado, who were in control of possession for a good chunk of the extra frame.
“I was trying to go too far,” Kadri said of his goal. “I knew I had a pretty good shot and maybe had a chance. I thought it was in the original and then he kind of cheated on me there and I thought maybe [was] between his arm. It was kind of swimming in the tuck. I thought he had it, so it was definitely a few seconds of confusion there. Then I just saw everyone rushing into the ice and that’s when I knew it was confirmed. Definitely, a team effort on target, and it’s good to make that happen.”
Qadri had a successful playoff before his thumb issue, scoring six goals and 14 points in 13 games. It was after Qadri put on a regular season (27 goals, 89 points in 71 games) that produced high expectations for his performance in the Colorado Cup.
My determination to appear in the Cup Final was evident to anyone watching his recovery. Given all that was at stake, Bednar had to make sure that Kadri was not a liability.
“I want to know more than just telling the coaches he’s ready to go,” Bednar said. “I want to know what he can do, what he can’t do, if anything, how he feels about it, and make sure he’s confident he can come back and help. I don’t want him if he can” let’s play the right way and get what we need to achieve. He was pretty sure, I liked the way his sleds went, so obviously we want a player of his caliber in the squad.”
What Bednar was not surprised by was that Qadri’s return eventually produced the climax of the sequential transformation.
“It’s the Stanley Cup final; you know he’s going to get out there and give it his all,” Bednar said. “And he has the potential to win hockey games in moments like this. There is no doubt why we would want to have him.”
While Game 4 had a positive ending for Colorado, it didn’t look like it was heading this way early on.
It took Tampa Bay just 36 seconds to go 1-0 up over the avalanche on the strangest goal of the series.
Lightning had good offensive area pressure early on when Erik Cernak fired a shot at Darcy Kuemper that instantly knocked out the goalkeeper’s mask. Then Kuemper couldn’t cross to stop the ensuing Anthony Cerelli play that put Tampa Bay on the board.
Usually when the goalkeeper’s mask is taken off, there is an instant whistle, but in this case, because there was a constant chance of scoring, play was allowed to continue.
The two sides traded opportunities from there, with Colorado overcoming two deficits to force overtime. Colorado hit a few posts there and would have been frustrated seeing anything go by. My destiny will not be denied. And so the avalanche heads home for Game Five with one goal: to raise the trophy.
He says a lot [about] What we already know, [that he’s] “He’s a very resilient human being,” said Nathan McKinnon, who scored a solid goal in Game 4, of Kadri.[It was] Big push for us to get this guy back. I thought he looked really good tonight, put in a lot of good plays and looked like he’s taking a great shot at the net.”
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