Kadri relishes Game 4 OT winner: 'I've been waiting for this my whole life'

Eliot J. Schechter / National Hockey League / Getty

Nazem Kadri was eager to make an impact in his first-ever Stanley Cup Final game and his first time back on the ice since undergoing thumb surgery during the previous round.

The Colorado Avalanche forward acknowledged how long he'd been thinking about the opportunity after burying the winner in overtime to give his club a 3-1 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I'd been waiting for this (for) my whole life, so I figured I'd stop waiting and just try to join the party," Kadri told ESPN's Emily Kaplan postgame. "I'm just grateful I'm able to be in this position, and with this group of guys, (you) couldn't have written a better story."

Kadri took a pass from Artturi Lehkonen, went backhand-to-forehand, and beat Andrei Vasilevskiy with just over 12 minutes elapsed in the extra frame.

Kadri became the ninth player in NHL history to score an overtime goal in his Cup Final debut and the first to do so in a contest that wasn't Game 1.

"I'm not surprised, to be honest with you," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog told reporters, including CBS Denver's Michael Spencer, when asked about Kadri's goal after it initially appeared he wouldn't play again in this postseason.

"That's the kind of guy he is," Landeskog continued. "He'll do anything to win. It's not an easy thing to come back from, but playing for what's at stake right now, you know he wasn't going to go down easy. It was an inspiration to everybody else to see a teammate like that try to come back and fight every day to try to get better."

Kadri missed Game 4 of the Western Conference Final - in which Colorado swept the Edmonton Oilers - and the first three games of the championship round after Evander Kane boarded him early in Game 3. Kadri underwent thumb surgery after the contest.

The 31-year-old is having a stellar postseason with seven goals and eight assists in 14 contests. He notched a hat trick one game after receiving racist threats in Round 2.

Kadri and the Avalanche will have a chance to win the Cup on home ice in Game 5 on Friday.

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Kadri relishes Game 4 OT winner: 'I've been waiting for this my whole life'
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