EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Artturi Lehkonen scored a 1-19 goal in overtime and Colorado beat the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 on Monday night, ending a four-game sweep in the Western Conference Finals and sending the Avalanche in Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 2001.
Colorado meets the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and two-time Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning. Rangers lead this best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 takes place in Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen also scored for Colorado. Pavel Francouz stopped 30 of 35 shots.
“Our main thing is just trying to be resilient and making sure we play the same game every night,” Makar said. “Sometimes it might not be pretty, but at the end of the day we’re just trying to get the job done.”
Zach Hyman scored twice for the Oilers. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Connor McDavid and Zack Kassian also scored for Edmonton. Leon Draisaitl had four assists and goalie Mike Smith finished the game with 36 saves.
The teams scored six goals combined in the third half — four by Colorado, who, despite a 15-13 lead, came back from a 4-2 deficit.
“It was definitely a great comeback win,” said Lehkonen. “We talked at the second break about how we just need to find our game and pull through with it.”
Rantanen looked to complete Colorado’s comeback, scoring a power-play goal with just over five minutes remaining to give the Avalanche a 5-4 lead.
But the Oilers stormed back and forced overtime when Kassian scored at 16:38 to level it to 5-all. Lehkonen scored 1:19 into overtime, a goal that stood for a high stick after checking.
“Cale took the shot,” said Lehkkonen, who scored the goal to send a team through to the final for the second straight season after doing so with Montreal in 2021. “I got a tip about it. It landed right on my blade. I basically had an empty net in front of me, so tap it in.
The Avalanche improved to 11-2 in the playoffs, including a perfect 7-0 away. Only six other teams in NHL history have strung together at least seven straight road wins in a postseason.
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Colorado opened the scoring at 3:46 on a power play when Lehkonen stole the puck from Hyman and fed Makar before firing a shot through traffic and hitting Smith’s left post for his fifth goal of the playoffs.
Trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Oilers got underway at 7:39 of the second period when Hyman took a pass from Draisaitl out of the rush and backhanded Francouz past the glove for his 10th goal in the to make the playoffs.
Nugent-Hopkins gave Edmonton its first lead at 4:57 p.m. when Toews and MacKinnon crossed their signals. The Oilers center jumped on the turnover and hit Francouz with another backhand pull – this time to the blocker side – with his sixth when Draisaitl, who was playing with an injured leg, was treated after limping onto the bench.
Colorado rookie Alex Newhook was booed for delaying the game for shooting the puck over the glass late in the period, and Edmonton made the visitors pay as McDavid scored his 10th goal of the postseason and 31st point and Francouz defeated by another Draisaitl feed for a 3-1 lead at 1:06 in the semis.
McDavid and Draisaitl become the eighth pair of teammates in NHL history to each score 30 points in a playoff.
Colorado came back 31 seconds after the third when Toews’ shot hit Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci up front as he struggled with MacKinnon. It was Toews’ fifth.
Hyman scored his second goal of the night and 11th overall in a 4-on-2 onslaught, sending an ankle shot off a Draisaitl setup at 3:55 past Francouz for a 4-2 lead.
Landeskog brought Colorado back to the front at 8:58 a.m. in a mad scramble after Smith flipped the puck.
Edmonton had a power play with less than nine minutes to go and was trying to get in front by two, but Draisaitl’s shot off the side of the Francouz goal was as close as the Oilers would come.
MacKinnon equalized on his 11th with a high shot. Smith had 6:30 left, setting the stage for Rantanen’s opening goal, his fifth of the playoffs.
But Kassian scored his second goal, putting a puck down the left crease after Draisaitl’s first shot at 3:22.
Colorado got past the Oilers in four straight games despite losing No. 1 goaltender Darcy Kuemper and winger Andre Burakovsky to injuries in Game 1 before Kadri went down on Saturday. Kümper returned to serve as a replacement for the Francouz on Monday.
NOTES: The Colorado Avalanche were without the injured Nazem Kadri. Kadri was injured in an illegal hit by Edmonton’s Evander Kane in Game 3. Kadri didn’t return after Kane smashed him left arm first into the boards at 1:06, a hit that was checked and counted as a major penalty. Kane was suspended by the NHL for Game 4. The Avalanche have not revealed what Kadri’s injury is or how long he will be out. … The Oilers were also without second-line winger Kailer Yamamoto for a third straight season after he suffered a hit from Gabriel Landeskog in Game 2. … The Oilers just wanted to become the fifth team in league history to win a series after falling 3-0 behind.