Don’t Turn the Lights Off Quite Yet
The Tampa Bay Lightning will not go quietly into the night! They will not turn tail and give up the fight! What a momentum boosting win for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they dominate the Colorado Avalanche 6-2. Colorado came out and drew first blood by a power play snipe from Gabriel Landeskog. Mackinnon entered the zone so easily and it worked its way to Cale Makar who fed Mikko Rantanen for a quality shot on net that squeaked enough past for the Colorado captain to bury it for his 10th of the playoffs. Lightning did not back down as Anthony Cirelli capitalized on a great defensive breakout into Colorados offensive zone with numbers. Little give and go to Patrick Maroon as they enter the zone and Cirelli beats the defender wide with speed and tucks it backhand to tie it.
Storm Of Goals In the Amalie Arena
Still with 5 minutes left in the first, Steven Stamkos set up Ondrej Palat in the high slot on a beautiful give and go. Rantanen was caught in no man’s land on that defensive coverage and Palat found himself all alone for a snipe top shelf right on Darcy Kuemper’s front porch. The crowd was incredible as every fan was drawn to the game and there were skirmishes quite often as tempers flared and fists flew.
Lightning did not hesitate to pour on the goals or the forecheck as Nicholas Paul tucks home a beautiful goal from an aggressive forecheck by the third line. Corey Perry causes Josh Manson to throw it up the boards as Ross Colton is handed a gift and feeds it to Paul. The ever-deadly Colorado powerplay struck again shortly after Paul’s goal as Landeskog fired one past Vasilevsky to bring it within 1 at 3-2. This powerplay is above 45% in efficiency, if not above 50%, and that’s an INCREDIBLE advantage to have in the Stanley Cup Finals. Nikita Kucherov feeds Stamkos in the slot with an unbelievable backhand feed and Stamkos launches it top shelf past Kuemper.
Kucherov also had a costly turnover until Bogosian wheeled it back to the forwards and Kucherov made up for his mistake by a great forecheck and pass. Oh you could feel this crowd let out a big breath of air as they finally realized that this is a whole new series now as they lead 4-2. Just to make things sweeter for the home crowd, Hedman feeds a recently unpenalized Maroon as a give and go with Kucherov entering the o-zone giving Patrick the chance at a backhand goal to go up 5-2. And with 8 minutes still left in the second! Tampa finds themselves on the power play and Viktor Hedman blasts a low shot that trickles past Pavel Francouz, recently replacing Kuemper, and Corey Perry buries it home for number 6 of the night.
Loud Crowd & Great Defense Help Secure Game 3
Not much else happened as Colorado struggled to overcome any Tampa rush. The home crowd was rocking too so you could feel Colorado fading easily. Even in defeat, Nathan Mackinnon was still flying with the boys but Tampa was entirely different tonight. They cut the speed of the Avalanche through the neutral zone and showed Cale Makar and the boys that they can not only score but transition quickly. More fisticuffs and group hugs happened throughout the last 8 minutes of the game as they battled towards the last whistle. You want to think that Darcy Kuemper will be starting again for game 4 but they won’t be joined by anybody new off the injury list, barring new developments. That means Nazim Kadri is still a game 6 probable but it’s a good sign to see him skating even if it’s in a non-contact jersey.
Tune in Wednesday as we watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Have a Tuesday, everybody.