Andre Burakovsky called it a dream come true to score the game-winner in overtime in the Colorado Avalanche’s 4-3 home win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
It was a great start for the Avalanche, which led 2-0 in the first 10 minutes thanks to goals from Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin.
Nicholas Paul delivered one for the Lightning, but Artturi Lehkonen scored on the power play to close out the first period, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead going into the first break.
After a relatively even start to the second, the Lightning turned things around with two goals in less than a minute, courtesy of Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev.
This set up a tense third period, with neither team able to find a winner before the end of regulation, but Burakovsky was unwilling to stay all night, scoring the winner with the golden goal only 83 seconds into extra time to send home fans into raptures.
Speaking to ESPN immediately after the win, Burakovsky said it was a special moment, let alone doing it in front of the screaming Colorado faithful.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “I think we really fought throughout this game.
“We had a little nervous breakdown in the second half, but I think we bounced back in the third – great job from the boys.
“I don’t think we were hard enough on the pucks, we weren’t winning any runs in the second period, which gave them too much space. In third we bounced back and really fought hard, doing all the right things.
“[Before overtime] we just told ourselves to continue as if we had played in third, to send the pucks to the net and to take the rebounds. We are confident in our game, and I think that’s exactly what we did.
“These fans are amazing – they’ve been amazing all year for us – it’s brilliant, it’s been a dream since I was a kid.”
Although Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was happy with the win, he said he expects a strong response from the Lightning.
“We’re up against a really good team, and they’re not going to turn around and lie down,” he said. “They’re going to have to push back.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper – who has led them to back-to-back Stanley Cups the past two seasons – said he knew what it took to get the job done, and his team didn’t bring it in. the first game.
“There are positive signs for us in this game – but the right team won the game so give them credit for getting it done,” he said.
“I don’t think we gave them our best game. To beat a team like that, we have to have better in us.”