Kadri responds to racist death threats with hat trick for Avs, pushing Blues to brink
Andrei Vasilevskiy's 49-save shutout leads Lightning to sweep of Panthers
Nazem Kadri had the last laugh.
Kadri scored three goals, including two during a four-goal second period barrage, and the visiting Colorado Avalanche beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their NHL Western Conference series.
Kadri's outburst came after he received racist death threats on social media following his collision in Game 3 on Saturday that knocked Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington out for the rest of the series.
"I wanted to come out tonight and really put a mark on this game, especially after what happened," Kadri said. "I tried to do that as best as possible. Sometimes you've got to be patient and you've got to wait. I was able to strike early in the second period and was able to get the mojo going."
Kadri's first career playoff hat trick was a powerful response to quiet all the haters.
"I know some of those messages I got doesn't reflect every single fan in St. Louis," Kadri said. "But for those that hate, that was for them."
Nazem Kadri (<a href="https://twitter.com/43_Kadri?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@43_Kadri</a>) was feeling it tonight as he notched his first <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StanleyCup?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StanleyCup</a> playoff <a href="https://twitter.com/Enterprise?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Enterprise</a> hat trick! 🎩 <a href="https://t.co/aGKWE7cV9F">pic.twitter.com/aGKWE7cV9F</a>—@NHL
Kadri, who was booed heavily every time he touched the puck, skated toward the glass and appeared to salute the Blues fans after each of his first two goals, inciting even more jeers.
"I know that they're booing me and what-not, but that's what being a fan is," Kadri said. "As a home team and a home player, you want the fans on your side and heckling the other team, as long as it's within the guidelines. I've got no issues with that and I know what was said isn't a reflection on every single fan in St. Louis. I understand that and I want to make that clear. But for those that wasted their time sending messages like that, I feel sorry for them."
“People need to be aware this stuff still happens, and it’s hurtful. But people are trying, at the end of the day I’m a good hockey player.”<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoAvsGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoAvsGo</a> <a href="https://t.co/GQvWcCavtg">pic.twitter.com/GQvWcCavtg</a>—@Avalanche
Kadri, who is of Lebanese descent and born in London, Ont., said he heard no racial taunts from the crowd on Monday.
"Naz's focused, he's a big boy, he's a tough guy, and he's a resilient guy," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. "And we're proud of him as a group and we have a task that we're trying to complete and Naz understands that and it's unfortunate he has to deal with it and he knows that we're all with him and that's what we care about."
Nazem Kadri’s wife shares what their family has endured for the past 48 hours through the Jazzy Kadri Instagram account. <br><br>These racist attacks are sickening. <a href="https://t.co/pLWeEs0K7y">pic.twitter.com/pLWeEs0K7y</a>—@mikeystephens81
Erik Johnson and Devon Toews also scored and Mikko Rantanen added an empty netter for the Avalanche, while Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves.
David Perron scored twice and Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist for the Blues. Ville Husso, making his first start since Game 3 of the first round against Minnesota, made 31 saves.
Game 5 is Wednesday in Colorado.
"We got outskated for most of the game 5-on-5," Blues bench boss Craig Berube said. "It's pretty simple. I don't know why. We got outskated. They outskated us. Got to every loose puck. Lost a lot of puck battles."
3 goals in less than 2 minutes
The Avalanche took control of the game — and the series — with three goals in less than a two-minute span early in the second period.
Johnson got it going with his first of the playoffs at the 2:44 mark. Kadri gave the Avalanche the lead with his first at 4:07 and Toews scored 19 seconds later to make it 3-1.
Kadri said Berube's comments after Game 3 were part of his motivation. When asked about the collision following the game, Berube referred to Kadri's past disciplinary action from the league office.
"He made some comments that I wasn't a fan of," Kadri said. "I guess he's never heard of bulletin-board material."
Kadri gave Perron a late shove a minute later, causing retaliation by Perron and Buchnevich that landed them both in the box with minor penalties. Colorado did not score on the two-man advantage, but Kadri buried his second goal moments after it ended to make it 4-1.
'I felt so good for him'
Perron and Buchnevich each scored power play goals late in the second to bring the Blues back within one, but Kadri's goal midway through the third scuttled the comeback attempt.
"It was awesome," Johnson said of Kadri's hat trick. "I felt so good for him. You know, imagine being in his situation, it can't be a fun thing. Like I said, no human being should actually receive that type of treatment, especially with a hockey game. ... I think he liked being the villain tonight and he certainly stepped up for us."
Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game and they escaped the first period with the lead despite getting outshot 15-3. Husso made several tough saves drawing chants of "HUSS!" from the crowd.
"I'm not sure we ever had control of the game, even though we scored first," Perron said. "We didn't make them defend hard enough. We had some pushes, but not nearly consistent enough to win a hockey game."
St. Louis police are investigating the threats made toward Kadri. The NHL told the AP on Monday that it is working with the St. Louis Police Department to employ enhanced security procedures both at the arena and in the hotel.
Lightning's Maroon notches winning goal
Andrei Vasilevskiy had 49 saves and the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a four-game sweep of the Florida Panthers with a 2-0 victory Monday night that sent the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions back to the Eastern Conference final for the sixth time in eight years.
Pat Maroon snapped a scoreless tie, batting Zach Bogosian's shot down behind Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky before the puck trickled into the net a little over six minutes into the third period. Ondrej Palat added an empty-net goal with 22 seconds left.
Vasilevskiy won his sixth straight game, a streak that began with the Lightning facing a 3-2 series deficit in the opening round. It was his sixth shutout in his last seven series-clinching wins.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner limited the high-scoring Panthers, who averaged a NHL-best 4.11 goals while compiling the league's best record during the regular season, to just three goals in four games.
The Lightning joined the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens as the only franchises to win at least 10 consecutive playoff series. Their bid to become the first team in 40 years to capture three straight Stanley Cup titles will continue in the East final against either the Carolina Hurricanes or New York Rangers.
Goals waved off
The defending champs persevered Monday night despite having goals by Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov waved off within a 48-second span of the second period — the first after Florida coach Andrew Brunette challenged and a lengthy replay review determined Palat lifted the puck out of play along the boards before Mikhail Sergachev fired a shot that Killorn tipped past Bobrovsky.
Less than a minute later, Tampa Bay appeared to take the lead again only to have replay confirm Anthony Cirelli won a faceoff in the left circle with a hand pass that Kucherov rifled through Bobrovsky.
The Panthers became the first Presidents' Trophy winners to be swept by a defending Stanley Cup champion in the playoffs since Edmonton breezed past Calgary on its way to another title in 1988.
Vasilevskiy, who entered Monday night having given up one goal in each of his previous four games, has allowed one goal total in his last seven series-clinching wins.