Avalanche down Lightning
Colorado grab finals opener on Andre Burakovsky’s OT goal
Published: Jun 16, 2022 06:29 PM
Andrei Vasilevskiy (right) of the Tampa Bay Lightning has a goal scored against him by Andre Burakovsky of the Colorado Avalanche on June 15, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Photo: AFP

Andrei Vasilevskiy (right) of the Tampa Bay Lightning has a goal scored against him by Andre Burakovsky of the Colorado Avalanche on June 15, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. Photo: AFP

Andre Burakovsky showed what championship experience means and put the Colorado Avalanche one game closer to their first title in 21 years.

Burakovsky scored 1:23 into overtime to give Colorado a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lighting in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night in Denver.

Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist each, Artturi Lehkonen also scored, Mikko Rantanen had two assists and Darcy Kuemper returned to the lineup and made 20 saves for the Avalanche.

Burakovsky and fourth-line forward Darren Helm are the only members of the Colorado team who have won a title. 

Helm played for the Detroit Red Wings' finals winners in 2008. Burakovsky was part of the Washington Capitals' championship squad four years ago, and know-how from that Cup run paid off Wednesday night.

"I feel like I've been there and I know the situation and what's at stake," Burakovsky said.

Mikhail Sergachev, Nicholas Paul and Ondrej Palat scored goals and ­Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 34 shots for Tampa Bay, which got forward Brayden Point back after he missed the previous two rounds of the playoffs due to a lower-body injury.

"He's a warrior, he's going to gut it out," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said of Point. 

"It was just great for him to get back and great for our team to see him out there."

Game 2 is Saturday night in ­Denver.

In overtime, a shot by Colorado's J.T. Compher was blocked. The rebound came to Nichushkin, and he passed it through the slot to Burakovsky, who buried the puck into the open side of the net to win it. It was Burakovsky's second goal of the postseason.

"You put him in a spot, he can finish," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "He's a streaky scorer, and when he gets opportunities he can put the puck in the net."

Colorado got the first goal of the series 7:47 into the first period. Bowen Byram carried the puck into the Lightning zone, then passed it to Rantanen, whose shot from the left circle trickled through Vasilevskiy. Landeskog tapped it over the line for his ninth goal of the playoffs.

The Avalanche made it 2-0 less than two minutes later when Nathan MacKinnon passed to Nichushkin, whose shot from the slot beat Vasilevskiy on the short side at 9:23. It was his sixth of the postseason.

Tampa Bay got one back when Paul skated in on Kuemper and reached across the crease to slide the puck into the net at 12:26 of the opening period. The tally was Paul's fourth of the postseason.

Sergachev and Anthony Cirelli took tripping minors 27 seconds apart to give the Avalanche a two-man advantage, and the hosts cashed in when Lehkonen deflected Rantanen's shot by Vasilevskiy at 17:31 of the first. ­Lehkonen has seven goals in the playoffs.

The Lightning stormed back in the second period with a pair of goals 48 seconds apart. Palat made it 3-2 when he tipped in a centering pass from Nikita Kucherov at 12:51, his seventh of the postseason, and Sergachev tied it on a shot from the top of the right ­circle at 13:39, his second of the playoffs.