Andre Burakovsky gives Avalanche thrilling overtime win over Lightning in Game 1 of Stanley Cup Final

The Stanley Cup Final see-saw lifted Colorado’s way in the first period Wednesday night and it swung back hard in favor of Tampa Bay in the second.

Then, for more than a period and into overtime of Game 1, the board leveled out, a heavyweight leaning on each end.

In the end, though, it was precision more than brute force that determined the winner: A flick of the wrist from Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky, off a one-touch pass from Valeri Nichushkin in transition after a neutral zone turnover, that sent the puck past Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and the game into franchise lore.

The opening salvo in this championship quest: Colorado 4, Tampa Bay 3 in overtime.

“I saw (Colorado forward J.T.) Compher got the puck in the neutral zone and I was just trying to get out as quick as possible,” Burakovsky said of the final sequence. “I got back in and they made a great play to me. It was just for me to shoot it and lucky it went in.”

This city waited 21 years for the Stanley Cup Final to return and when the moment finally arrived, it did so in classic fashion. Burakovsky’s game-winner capped what was the 20th finals-opening game to require extra time, and the 95th finals overtime game overall.

On this night, an even first 60 minutes was the result of each team having a dominant stretch.

The Western Conference champion Avalanche, playing for the first time in nine days since capping a sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference final on June 6, jumped out to an early 3-1 lead in front of a raucous home crowd.

The Tampa Bay Lighting, winners of not only the Eastern Conference but also the past two Stanley Cups, leveled the game in the second period with back-to-back goals in 48 seconds, including one at the end of a dazzling sequence from wingers Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat.

“Going into the third period even, I think any guy on our team would have taken that going into Game 1,” Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram said. “We’ve got a chance to win and I thought we played a really good third, created some chances, and then we got it done in overtime.”

Overtime came after the teams played even for the final 26:21 of regulation. Burakovsky finally broke the stalemate 1:23 into overtime.