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Nazem Kadri’s OT goal lifts Avalanche over Lightning, 3-2, in Game 4 of Stanley Cup Final

Nazem Kadri scores the winning goal against the Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy (No. 88) in overtime to win Game 4 of Stanley Cup Final for Colorado.Julio Aguilar/Getty

Nazem Kadri scored at 12:02 of overtime and the Colorado Avalanche beat host Tampa Bay, 3-2, on Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to move within a victory of dethroning the two-time defending champion Lightning.

Playing for the first time since June 4 due to a thumb injury, Kadri skated in on Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped a shot under the goaltender’s right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 series lead.

“That was a huge win. A resilient win,” said Kadri, who had been sidelined since being injured during Game 3 of the Western Conference final against Edmonton.

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“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” the Colorado center added. “I figured it was time to join the party.”

The Avalanche outshot the Lightning, 11-3, in the extra period. Vasilevskiy stopped Logan O’Connor on a breakaway, and Colorado had a shot clang off the post and another hit the crossbar before Kadri ended it.

Game 5 is Friday night in Denver, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and are 7-2 this postseason.

Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game and Victor Hedman also scored in regulation for the Lightning. They took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

Nathan MacKinnon scored on a second-period power play for Colorado, and Andrew Cogliano tied it early in the third.

Darcy Kuemper, pulled from Game 3 after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots for the Avalanche.

Darcy Kuemper backstopped Colorado to the overtime victory.Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty

Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves. He has rebounded from allowing 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 to limit the high-scoring Avalanche to five the past two games.

The Lightning are trying to become the first team to win at least three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83. The Avalanche last hoisted the Cup in 2001.

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Maurice to coach Panthers

Paul Maurice is the new coach of the Florida Panthers, agreeing on a deal Wednesday to take over a club coming off a season where it had the best record in the NHL and rewrote the franchise’s record book.

The 55-year-old Maurice will be introduced Thursday morning, the Panthers said.

Maurice will replace Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, who could remain with the organization if he chooses to do so.

Brunette took over early last season following the resignation of Joel Quenneville, who had to step down after the revelation of how the Chicago Blackhawks mishandled abuse allegations brought by a player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. Quenneville coached Chicago at that time.

Dallas introduces DeBoer

Pete DeBoer didn’t really hesitate to jump right back into coaching with the Dallas Stars about a month after he was fired by the Vegas Golden Knights.

Now the 54-year-old is ready to try to spark the offense of the only playoff team to get outscored during the 2021-22 regular season.

Pete DeBoer speaks during his introductory press conference Wednesday in Dallas.Schuyler Dixon/Associated Press

“The Vegas one rattled me,” DeBoer said during his introductory news conference, sitting next to general manager Jim Nill with captain Jamie Benn in the audience.

“I think as a coach and a veteran coach that’s gone through it before, you lick your wounds for a couple of days, you reflect on what you could have done differently,” he said. “And then the phone starts ringing and you start diving into the teams that are interested and you start getting excited again.”

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Wild sign wing Dewar

The Minnesota Wild signed left wing Connor Dewar to a two-year, $1.6 million contract, coming off his rookie season. Dewar made his NHL debut on Oct. 28 and played in 35 games, with two goals, four assists and 48 hits while playing on the fourth line. The Canadian blocked five shots at Winnipeg on Feb. 8 to tie a franchise single-game record for a rookie. He appeared in one playoff game …The Chicago Blackhawks have promoted Meghan Hunter to assistant general manger among several front office moves, making her the third woman to currently hold that position and fourth in NHL history. GM Brandon Davidson announced Hunter’s promotion and other front office moves Tuesday. Karilyn Pilch was also promoted to director of player personnel, while Mark Eaton will remain assistant GM of development and Brian Campbell will keep his role as hockey operations adviser.