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. Lehkonen, then with Montreal, also got the Canadiens into the Final last season with an overtime goal.
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 four assists, including on Lehkonen’s winner.
The Oilers had three goals in six shots when Connor McDavid scored with a minute remaining in the second period. The Oilers took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after two periods.
But in the next period, Devon Toews had an immediate answer for the Avalanche, scoring 30 seconds into the third to narrow the Oilers’ lead to 3-2.
The Oilers went back up by two goals when Hyman scored his second goal of the night with 16 minutes remaining in the third period.
The Avalanche refused to go down without a fight. Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog tapped in a goal underneath Oilers goalie Mike Smith with 11 minutes remaining to narrow the Oilers’ lead to 4-3.
The Avalanche continued to show grit, battling back to tie the game 4-4 in the third period on a goal from Nathan MacKinnon.
Then, with five minutes remaining, it was forward Mikko Rantanen who gave the Avalanche a 5-4 lead on a power play goal.
But the Oilers weren’t done. Zach Kassian evened the score at 5-5 with a goal at 3:30 left in the third period to send the game into overtime.
Artturi Lehkonen was the hero for the Avalanche, scoring 1:19 into overtime to give the Avalanche the sweep over the Oilers.
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.
Lehkonen had two assists to go with his winner. Cogliano had a key block Monday night but appeared to hurt his hand on the play.
The newcomers 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, which cost Oilers forward a one-game suspension.
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