Avalanche down Lightning in overtime in Stanley Cup Final opener

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Andre Burakovsky scored at 1:23 of overtime to lift the Colorado Avalanche to a 4-3 victory over the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in game one of the NHL Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

Burakovsky, limited by injury in recent weeks, belted a one-timer from the right side to seal the win in a game that was tied for the last 26:21 of regulation.

Valeri Nichushkin scored and assisted on Burakovsy's goal.

Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist and Mikko Rantanen had two assists for Colorado, who had 20 saves from Darcy Kuemper in his first game since he was injured in game one of the Western Conference final on May 31.

"It feels amazing," said Austrian-born Swede Burakovsky. "I think we really battled through this whole game.

"We had a little mental break down in the second period, but I think we bounced back in the third."

The Avs, who had a nine-day break after sweeping the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference finals, had jumped to an early 3-1 lead in front of ecstatic home fans at the Ball Arena in Denver.

But the Lightning scored twice in a 48-second span of the second period to pull level.

Landeskog gave Colorado a 1-0 lead at 7:47 of the first period and Nichushkin scored 1:36 later to extend the Avs' lead.

Nicholas Paul cut it to 2-1 at 12:26 but Colorado's Artturi Lehkonen scored on a redirection of  Rantanen's pass on a 5-on-3 powerplay to make it 3-1 Colorado at 17:31 of the first period.

Ondrej Palat cut the deficit to 3-2 at 12:51 of the second, Nikita Kucherov's back-handed pass finding Palat's stick in the slot.

Forty-eight seconds later Mikhail Sergachev knotted the score at 3-3 with a wrist shot from 65 feet away that Kuemper never tracked.

The third period was scoreless. The Avalanche couldn't capitalize on a power-play over the final 1:24 of regulation.

But Burakovsky ended it quickly in overtime to put the Avalanche on track for their first title since 2001.

- All the right things -

"I don't think we were hard enough on pucks," Burakovsky said of the Avs' inability to press their advantage in the second period.

"We weren't winning races in the second period, we gave them a little too much room. In the third, we bounced back and really fought through it and did all the right things."

The Avs will try to build their lead when they host game two of the best-of-seven series on Saturday.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Tampa Bay will just have to regroup as they try to become the first team to claim three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four from 1980-83.

"Listen, we can't control what's already happened, we can only control what's coming," Stamkos said. "We battled back, we tied the game, it goes to overtime, anything can happen.

"Obviously not the start that we wanted. We'll have to change some things up and certainly have a better start (in game two)."

bb/pst