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Lehkonen nets OT winner as Avs sweep aside Oilers and reach Stanley Cup final

Colorado finishes off Edmonton with 6-5 triumph
Colorado Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog (92), Artturi Lehkonen (62), Kurtis MacDermid (56) and Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL conference finals action in Edmonton on Monday, June 6, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Arturri Lehknonen scored at 1:19 of overtime as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the host Edmonton Oilers 6-5 on Monday to complete a four-game sweep of the NHL’s Western Conference final.

Cale Makar had a goal and four assists in regulation for Colorado.

Grabriel Landeskog, with a goal and two assists, Nathan MacKinnon, with a goal and an assist, Mikko Rantanen and Devon Toews also scored for the Avalanche. Lehkonen added two assists.

The trade deadline pickup’s sixth goal of the playoffs came after he knocked down Makar’s point shot with his stick and then buried his own rebound. The goal stood after a video review for a possible high stick infraction.

Pavel Francouz made 30 saves for the Avalanche, who earned a birth in the Stanley Cup final for the first time since the franchise won its second title in 2001.

Zach Hyman scored twice for Edmonton, while Connor McDavid, with a goal and two assists, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian provided the rest of the offence for the Oilers.

A hobbled Leon Draisaitl added four assists, while Mike Smith stopped 35 shots as Edmonton saw its first trip to the conference final since 2006 come to an abrupt end.

Teams that take a 3-0 lead in an NHL conference final/semifinal are now 45-0, including 27 sweeps.

Colorado will face either the New York Rangers or Tampa Bay Lightning in the final. New York leads that series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Tuesday in Tampa.

The Avalanche improved to 11-2 in the playoffs, including a perfect 7-0 on the road. Only six other teams in NHL history have strung together at least seven consecutive road victories in a single post-season.

Trailing 1-0 after Monday’s first period and with both teams almost sleepwalking through the second, the Oilers finally got going at 7:39 when Hyman took a pass from Draisaitl off the rush and beat Francouz with a backhand past the glove for his 10th goal of the playoffs.

Nugent-Hopkins gave Edmonton its first lead at 16:57 when Toews and MacKinnon got their signals crossed. The Oilers centre jumped on the turnover and beat Francouz on another backhand deke — this time to the blocker side to send Rogers Place into orbit with his sixth as Draisaitl, who’s basically playing on one good leg, was getting treatment after hobbling to the bench.

Hyman fired a shot off the post as Edmonton continued to press the issue.

Colorado rookie Alex Newhook was whistled for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass late in the period, and Edmonton made the visitors pay when McDavid ripped his 10th of the post-season, and 31st point, past Francouz off another Draisaitl feed for a 3-1 lead with 1:06 left on the clock.

McDavid and Draisaitl are the eighth pair of teammates in NHL history to each record 30 points in a playoff.

Colorado got one back 31 seconds into the third when Toews’ shot hit Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci in front as he was battling with MacKinnon for the defenceman’s fifth.

But Hyman scored his second of the night and 11th overall on a 4-on-2 rush where his knuckling effort from a Draisaitl setup fooled Francouz at 3:55 for a 4-2 lead.

Landeskog got Colorado back within one at 8:58 on a mad scramble in front after Smith needlessly turned the puck over with his eighth.

Edmonton got a power play with under nine minutes to go looking to go back up by two, but Draisaitl’s shot off the side of Francouz’s goal was as close as the Oilers would get.

MacKinnon tied it with his 11th on a shot upstairs on Smith with 6:30 left in regulation to set the stage for Rantanen’s go-ahead goal, his fifth of the playoffs.

But Kassian scored his second, firing home a puck in the crease after Draisaitl’s initial shot with 3:22 left as the see-saw affair provided another twist.

The Avalanche were without injured centre Nazem Kadri after he was shoved awkwardly into the boards by Oilers winger Evander Kane early in Saturday’s Game 3.

Kane, who leads the playoffs with 13 goals, was suspended for Monday’s must-win contest, opening the door for rookie forward Dylan Holloway — the 14th pick at the 2020 draft and one of Edmonton’s top prospects — to make his NHL debut.

The Oilers were also minus second-line winger Kailer Yamamoto for a third straight contest after he took a hit from Gabriel Landeskog in Game 2.

Colorado got past the Oilers in four straight despite losing No. 1 goalie Darcy Kuemper and top-6 winger Andre Burakovsky to injury in Game 1 before Kadri went down Saturday.

Kuemper returned to serve as the Francouz’s backup Monday.

The Avalanche have also dealt with the absence of top-4 defenceman Samuel Girard since he was injured in a first-round sweep of the Nashville Predators.

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Edmonton used its speed and skill to beat the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames to open the post-season, but ran up against an opponent in Colorado that played at an even higher pace coupled with tenacity and defensive commitment.

Colorado took a wild Game 1 by an 8-6 scoreline before shutting out Edmonton 4-0 two nights later and then picking up a 4-2 victory Saturday to push the Oilers to the brink of elimination.

Edmonton was short-handed for seven of the first 12 minutes in Game 3 — including Kane’s major for boarding on Kadri — and once again ran into early penalty trouble Monday when Kassian was whistled for slashing.

The visitors opened the scoring at 3:46 on that power play when Lehkonen stole the puck from Hyman and fed Makar before he fired a shot through traffic and in off Smith’s left post for his fifth goal of the playoffs.

Avalanche defenceman Josh Manson then hit iron moments later inside a nervous and unusually quiet Rogers Place.

Edmonton got a pair of power plays later in the period, but weren’t able to connect despite some significant zone time, including a Draisaitl shot that rattled Francouz’s mask before the home side pushed back in the second to live at least a few more days.

Joshua Clipperton, THE CANADIAN PRESS

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