Avalanche advance to Stanley Cup Final following Game 4 overtime victory in Edmonton

Jun 6, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; The Colorado Avalanche celebrate forward Artturi Lehkonen (62) goal against the Edmonton Oilers during overtime in game four of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

EDMONTON, Alberta — What appeared to be a lost game at times suddenly turned into a showing of resiliency and a feeling of belief.

The Avalanche trailing by two goals on two occasions in the third period on Saturday but stormed back to a 6-5 overtime victory in Game 4 at Rogers Place. They completed their second sweep of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 21 years.

“It’s just resilience, belief, guys just wanting to win and stepping up and making plays at key times,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “A lot of fight in our team and really proud of them for what they’ve accomplished to this point.”

Listen to “Avalanche sweep Edmonton in Western Conference final” on Spreaker.

Artturi Lehkonen scored the game-winner on the second shot in overtime just 1:09 into the frame to seal the victory. It was the second straight season that he’d clinched a Stanley Cup Final berth by scoring the overtime winner — doing it in 2021 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

“Everybody knows how good he is, how resilient he is,” winger Mikko Rantanen said of his fellow Finn, Lehkonen. “He checks, he defends hard, he kills penalties, plays on the power play, he scores big goals, goes to the hard areas. What else can you ask for from a player — a trade acquisition. It’s fun to watch and I’m really happy that we got him.

“He’s shown why we gave quite a bit for him.”

Colorado entered the third period trailing 3-1 but got an early tally from defenseman Devon Toews to pull within a goal. After the Oilers responded to make it 4-2, the Avs started to make their comeback a second time during the later stages of regulation.

First, a goal from Gabriel Landeskog to once again pull within a goal. Then, after the Avs killed off a penalty from Nathan MacKinnon, the superstar center exited the box and tied the game with a shortside wrister past goalie Mike Smith. The Avs scoring didn’t stop there.

Mikko Rantanen capitalized on Colorado’s second power play opportunity of the evening to give the Avs a 5-4 lead with five minutes remaining. The lead was short lived, however, as Edmonton stormed back two minutes later to knot it up once again and force overtime.

“I just think we’re resilient,” veteran defenseman Erik Johnson said. “Even after the third, we went into the locker before overtime and we just said, ‘Hey, boys, we would sign up for this at the start of the third. This is a great comeback. All the pressure is on them.’

“If they lose, their season’s over. So we just stuck with it and put our heads down and knew that if we played the right way and continued to play that way that it was going to come.”

Cale Makar, the Avalanche’s young superstar defenseman, had another glorious evening. Tasked with shutting down Connor McDavid as much as possible throughout the series, Makar managed to produce more points than Edmonton’s top forward in four games. Makar had a goal and five points in Game 4, finishing with nine points in the Western Conference final. McDavid had 7.

“For me, I feel like Toews and I try to be solid rocks on the back regardless of scenarios,” Makar said. “Make sure we’re getting it to those guys. Nate, Landy, Mikko. And then individually for me I try to take it game by game, be consistent. Overall there’s not much too it.”

Colorado has trailed in the third period in each of its three series-clinching victories during this run, all of which have come on the road. In Nashville and St. Louis, the Avalanche trailed by a goal in the later stages before winning both times in regulation.

“I mean, listen it’s the playoffs and this is what you play all year for,” Landeskog said. “Even when you’re down, we were down in Game 4 in Nashville in the late stage of that game and we kept pushing, we kept playing. Same thing in Game 6 against St. Louis in the second round. Same thing here tonight, obviously we’re comfortable playing on the road and in the playoffs we know how important these games are.”

The Avs will have a lengthy break before they begin their third quest to win the Cup in team history. In the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in a series that won’t end until Thursday at the earliest. But if it goes seven games, the series would be decided on June 14, setting up a Stanley Cup Final that won’t begin until June 18.

“We’ll get some rest and we’ll keep our intensity really high in practice and be ready to go,” MacKinnon said.

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Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

Listen to “Avalanche sweep Edmonton in Western Conference final” on Spreaker.

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