Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar wants his team to use their "nervous energy and emotion" in Game 5 as they aim to secure their first Stanley Cup in more than 20 years.

The Avs lead the Finals series against the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-1 after a crucial 3-2 win in overtime in Game 4, courtesy of a controversial Nazem Kadri goal when Colorado had six players on the ice.

Colorado can seal their third Stanley Cup and first since 2001 with a victory over the Lightning, having started the series with two wins on home ice before they were thrashed 6-2 in Game 3.

Bednar expects heightened emotions among his players, with title celebrations looming, but does not want them to shy away from those feelings.

"You always hear about controlled emotion. I'm kind of the opposite with our team," Bednar told reporters.

"Besides running around and getting out of our game plan, I want us to use our energy and nervous energy and emotion to go play the game with passion, play hard and stay on our toes and getting after it.

"That's my message to our team, has been all year. I want to harness that. I want our team to get on the attack.

"Every game the whole season long, it was the same type of preparation as today."

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper expects All-Star Nikita Kucherov to play in Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday despite an injury concern.

Kucherov exited Game 3 on Monday, as the Lightning won 6-2 over the Colorado Avalanche, with 6:05 remaining in the third period after a push from Devon Toews.

The Russian tangled with Toews after being slammed into the ice and boards and was involved in the ensuing power play but left hobbling for the trainers' room soon after.

"As I sit right now, I think he can play tomorrow," Cooper told reporters on Tuesday.

"But I'm not Kuch. If I know Kuch, he's sitting there saying the same thing. But we'll see what the doctors and everybody says."

Kucherov has been the Lightning's leading points scorer over this season's Stanley Cup playoffs, adding seven goals to his 19 assists.

The 29-year-old has been a creative force for the reigning Stanley Cup champions in important moments this post-season, namely his extraordinary game-winning backhand assist for Ross Colton in Game 2 against the Florida Panthers to set up a 2-0 series lead.

Cooper added: "I think so. I hope so. It's always difficult when the game is 12 hours ago or whatever it was. A lot can happen over the next two days.

"Am I glad there's a day off between games? Yes. We'll see how he is tomorrow."

Cooper said that Kucherov has played through pain before, including in the 2021 playoffs when he had a cracked rib.

The Lightning, who are chasing a rare Stanley Cup three-peat, trail 2-1 in the series after losing both games in Colorado.

The Colorado Avalanche were betting favourites headed into the Stanley Cup Final against the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 only strengthened their position.

Even at home, the Avs are not counting on Wednesday's win carrying over to Saturday's Game 2.

Colorado coach Jared Bednar indicated as much in the build-up to the clash at Ball Arena.

"I would say in this situation, I don't believe a lot in [momentum]," Bednar said. "Like, it's Stanley Cup Finals. We know we're going to see Tampa's best game. They'll be better than they were in Game 1."

The Avalanche got off to a hot start on Wednesday, holding leads of 2-0 and 3-1, but the Lightning weathered the storm and rallied to force overtime - a point not lost on Bednar.

"There are a lot of areas, for me, that we can be a lot better than we were in Game 1," the sixth-year coach said. "We approach it the same way we did in Game 1.

"I expect our guys to be energised and ready to go. It's an extra day's rest, they'll be the same way. It'll be about the detail in our game and how hard we can compete. The last part of that is the execution."

Despite the Lightning holding the advantage in playoff pedigree and experience, Bednar was proud of his young team for responding on hockey's biggest stage.

"Honestly, I feel like our team has kind of been there all along. I never felt that the moment was going to be too big for us, coming into this thing," Bednar said.

"Right from the finish of the Edmonton series, our guys, we told them to enjoy it for a couple of days, get away, but if you talk to any of our individuals, they'll say the same thing: 'Job's not done.'

"We've got a lot of work to do. It's going to be a tough series, and I feel like we've been focused on that. I don't think anyone's patting themselves on the back for being here. It's not the type of mentality we've had from day one of training camp."

The Lightning and coach Jon Cooper, meanwhile, are not panicking after dropping Game 1 and would be content to return to Tampa Bay with the series tied headed into Monday's Game 3.

"It's about winning the series, it's not about winning Game 1," Cooper said. "Yeah, would we like to win every single game? There's no question. But we've also started out on the road for all four series, so the fact that we've won one of them is kind of a bonus on our side. But it's about winning the series."

The Lightning are in familiar territory, needing to battle back for a series win. Tampa Bay dropped Game 1 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final before rallying to beat the Dallas Stars in six games.

This year's squad overcame Game 1 losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round and the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.

The Tampa Bay Lightning's Ross Colton admittedly could not believe his eyes when he scored the winning goal against the Florida Panthers in a 2-1 victory, to take a 2-0 lead in their playoff series.

Colton was called onto the ice with under a minute remaining in the third period and the score locked at 1-1, but abandoned caution and made his way towards the net as Nikita Kucherov retrieved the puck.

Kucherov found Colton as he approached the net with an astonishing backhand, no-look flick off the boards as the Panthers defence converged onto him, leaving Colton with the relatively simple finish to win the game.

Colton's look of near-bewilderment almost said as much but he confirmed his awe at the 28-year-old Russian's assist afterwards.

“I couldn’t believe he [Kucherov] got it on my stick,” Colton said. “I think when we went in the corner, I just said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ like 10 times because I honestly couldn’t believe he put it on my stick.

"When you’re on the ice with Kuch, you’ve got to be ready for anything. He’s got eyes in the back of his head, because I don’t even know how he could tell I was there."

The Lightning were relentless defensively against one of the NHL's best attacking teams this season, snuffing out four Panthers power plays, including one with under five minutes remaining.

While singling out Kucherov as a "special, special player", Lightning coach Jon Cooper asserted the defensive performance and ability to snatch games in clutch moments was a reflection of the team's character.

“No, I’m not surprised,” Cooper said. “I’m just surprised they waited until 3.8 seconds left to do it.”

In Thursday's other result, the St. Louis Blues evened up their series with the Colorado Avalanche, winning 4-1.

The Tampa Bay Lightning were served with a warning by head coach Jon Cooper after launching their Stanley Cup Finals mission with a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Cooper said his team still had a heap of work to do if they are to clinch back-to-back titles, and borrowed a string of baseball metaphors as he spoke of potential "curveballs" to come.

Two goals and an assist from Nikita Kucherov helped the Lightning to their comprehensive win in Game 1 at Amalie Arena.

Kucherov now has 30 points in the Stanley Cup playoffs for a second straight year, after seven goals and 23 assists. He has 64 points across this season and the previous campaign in the playoffs, a total only ever surpassed in successive playoff campaigns by Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

The Russian became just the fifth player in NHL history to achieve multiple 30-point playoff campaigns, following Gretzky (six), Mark Messier (three), Jari Kurri (two) and Lemieux (two).

Cooper sounded a note of caution though, dialling down the euphoria and saying in his post-game news conference: "Consistency is the key.

"You have your plan, you stick with it and you consistently rock it, and if you do that we like our chances in games, but it doesn't guarantee results.

"For us we have found something that works with us. It doesn't mean you're going to win every night, but it's sticking with that process.

"You look no further than the last series we played in."

That was the semi-final against the New York Islanders that went all the way to the seventh game, the Lighting taking a 1-0 win in that decider.

"Teams in this league push you to the brink," Cooper said. "You have to hang in there and stick with it and this group has found a way to do that.

"You're not going to win a series in one night. There's curveballs and sliders and fastballs, and they're all thrown at you at different times, but if you're consistent with your game we trust that good things will happen.

"Tonight was just one, but the series is long from over. We're happy with tonight and now we're just going to improve on what we're doing and try and replicate it in Game 2."

That second game comes on Wednesday night, also in Tampa.

Canadiens assistant coach Luke Richardson, leading the team in the continuing absence of Dominique Ducharme who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, expects a tighter battle next time.

Richardson said: "The rink was buzzing, and that's something that we will get over and we'll be a little bit more used to next game.

"I think maybe just to strike early for us will be key next game, to try and weather that storm and quiet the building a little bit and let us get a rhythm going."

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