Lightning Push the Avalanche to Game 6 in the Stanley Cup Finals

DENVER – After the Tampa Bay Lightning misplaced a heartbreaker in extra time on Wednesday to fall behind three video games to one in the Stanley Cup Finals, the simple cash was on the Colorado Avalanche to shut out the sequence at residence on Friday.

And why not? The Avalanche have been dominant in Denver all season and outscored the Lightning 11-3 in the first two video games of the sequence. (*6*) velocity and swarming type of play have been an enormous motive it rolled by way of the first three rounds of the playoffs, dropping solely twice.

But the Lightning aren’t the Nashville Predators or the up-and-coming Edmonton Oilers. They’re two-time defending champions who have not misplaced a playoff sequence in greater than three years. They have confronted each conceivable situation throughout that point, together with enjoying in three elimination video games, all of which they gained.

That quantity grew to 4 on Friday when the Lightning shocked the hometown Avalanche, successful 3-2 on a late objective by Ondrej Palat to ship the best-of-seven sequence again to Tampa for Game 6 on Sunday.

The Avalanche, who shocked the Lightning on Wednesday in Game 4 on a disputed extra time objective, appeared to have all the momentum. Backed by a raucous residence crowd keen to see the Avalanche seize their first Stanley Cup in 21 years, the Ball Arena pulsated with anticipation.

But the Avalanche by no means led in the sport. The staff was referred to as for a number of penalties that slowed its momentum and gave the Lightning simply sufficient daylight to maintain on for the win.

“When you’ve got been down this highway,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper stated after the sport, “the psychological fortitude you have got to have to not buckle in the atmosphere we simply performed in, there is a motive why they’ve a few rings. on their fingers. ”

Injuries, the wage cap and the stiffer competitors all play a component, however so does exhaustion. During the final two seasons, the Lightning performed till the finish of the hockey calendar whereas practically each different staff was at residence recuperating. The 2020 season was particularly annoying due to Covid-related restrictions.

Cooper additionally acknowledged that his staff had misplaced a stride or two enjoying in Denver a mile above sea degree, significantly in Game 2, which the Avalanche gained, 7-0.

But the Lightning have been completely different from the staff that misplaced the first two video games of the sequence. Tampa Bay discovered its stride throughout early Colorado penalties and took a 1-0 lead with below 5 minutes left in the first interval, when defenseman Jan Rutta flew down the proper facet of the ice untouched and fired a booming slap shot below the glove of Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper.

After beginning the second interval flat-footed, the Avalanche evened the rating about 5 minutes into the interval. Off a face-off, (*6*) excellent defenseman, Cale Makar, ripped a wrist shot from the proper circle that Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had initially stopped in his abdomen space, then dropped. That allowed Valeri Nichushkin to sweep the puck into the internet for his ninth objective of the playoffs.

After Alex Killorn of the Lightning and JT Compher of the Avalanche obtained offsetting penalties, Makar was referred to as for tripping on what seemed like an incidental play, giving the Lightning a four-on-three benefit. After firing shot after shot at Kuemper, Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning scored to put Tampa Bay up, 2-1. The Lightning additionally thwarted the Avalanche’s velocity, which produced a number of odd-man rushes.

“I don’t even suppose he was checking that man,” Jared Bednar, (*6*) coach, stated of the penalty. “They received their solely energy play objective on that one. So that harm, stung a bit of bit however it’s what it’s. You’ve received to roll with the punches. ”

Desperate to hoist the Stanley Cup at residence, the Avalanche performed aggressively to begin the third interval. Less than three minutes in, Makar fired a shot from the proper circle that Vasilevskiy couldn’t corral. The puck hit off the skate of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak and into the internet.

With the rating even and the season on the line, the groups performed at a frenzied tempo. But the Lightning, regardless of the altitude, the fatigue and the rigidity, jumped again forward for good when Palat’s shot trickled by way of Kemper’s legs for his eleventh objective of the playoffs.

“It looks as if he likes these big-time moments and he performs extraordinarily effectively below stress,” Palat’s linemate, Kucherov, stated.

The Avalanche mounted a fierce assault to attempt to tie the sport for a 3rd time. But with 2:43 left, Colorado was referred to as for too many males on the ice – the penalty that was not referred to as in Game 4 simply earlier than the Avalanche gained in extra time. With the Lightning on the energy play, the Avalanche have been unable to pull Kemper till below a minute was left.

Despite the win, Tampa Bay nonetheless faces lengthy odds to repeat as champions. Only 5 groups have overcome a two-games-to-none deficit in the Cup finals, the final being the Boston Bruins in 2011.

Thirty-one groups have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff sequence, most not too long ago the Rangers in the opening spherical of the playoffs this season. But just one staff has completed the feat in a Stanley Cup Final: The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, who overcame a 3-0 deficit and beat the Detroit Red Wings.

More than 30 groups have battled again from a 3-1 to pressure a seventh sport, solely to lose. New York Rangers followers little question bear in mind how the Blue Shirts misplaced Games 5 and 6 in 1994 earlier than ending off the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7.

“We didn’t have a selection: This was do or die for us,” stated Steven Stamkos, the Lightning captain. “Sometimes, you get caught wanting forward a bit of bit. But this group did an amazing job specializing in the current. ”

The current is now Game 6 on Sunday in Tampa.

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