It’s possible that the defending Stanley Cup champions were in danger. But the Tampa Bay Lightning, who have won back-to-back championships, came home and defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 in Game 3 on Monday to reduce their two-game lead to one. The Tampa Bay Lightning scored four goals in the second period, with Pat Maroon, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat each contributing a goal and an assist. The two-time reigning champion Lightning, who struggled and dropped their opening two road matches, improved with goals from Nicholas Paul, Anthony Cirelli, and Corey Perry.
Lightning fans were worried about more than just the two-game disadvantage in the Stanley Cup Final. They were also worried about how the Avalanche had won. In both games, Colorado took an early lead before completely dominating Tampa Bay in Game 2. One of the best playoff goalies in NHL history, Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning, was smashed for seven goals on Saturday. However, Colorado’s goalie was under pressure on Monday. By the time the second half was midway through, Tampa Bay had a 5-2 advantage, and Darcy Kuemper was removed from the game.
Tampa Bay Vs Colorado Game 3 Breakdown
In some ways, Colorado is new terrain. Before losing 6-2 on Monday, the Avalanche hadn’t been defeated since May 25. They hadn’t suffered a postseason defeat with such a big margin. When Kuemper was removed, their goalie performance suffered. All of that scoring from depth stopped. All of it was horrible. Tampa Bay was a formidable opponent. It ought to have been a thrilling victory. Late in the third quarter, Kucherov left the game after tying up with Devon Toews near the boards. After scoring a goal early in the second half, Paul left. Colorado lost on the road for the first time in the playoffs, but the Avs are still up 2-1 in the series. In the postseason, Tampa Bay is still unbeaten at home.
Tampa Bay Came To Play
Before Game 3, Jon Cooper stated: “These guys work well together, but so do we. And we have visited these locations before.” He is correct; the Lightning has previously lost. They’ve previously been counted out. Reports of their defeat in the Stanley Cup Final seem excessively exaggerated, much like in those locations.
Tampa Bay Lightning appears to be a different team in Game 3 against the Avalanche, much like they did when they stormed back from a 2-0 loss on the road in the Eastern Conference Final. In Game 2, they managed 16 shots; tonight, they fired 26 shots at the Avalanche goal. After receiving only 29% of the shooting attempts in Game 2, they had garnered 50% of them through two periods. In the first two games, they were unable to score on the power play; but, in game 3, they did. In Denver, their star players were restrained; Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, and Victor Hedman all recorded multiple-point performances in this game.
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Colorado Down Big Through Two
Jared Bednar acted without thinking. Darcy Kuemper was removed from the game after giving up five goals on 21 shots just after the Lightning grabbed a 5-2 lead in the second period. Pavel Francouz was then chosen. A solution was required. Kuemper started the first quarter strongly but had since lost his edge. The pressure from the Lightning was too much for him to handle, and Colorado wasn’t playing confidently in front of him.
Kuemper had not really been asked to step up before this game in some time. Everyone anticipated a comeback as Tampa Bay lost the Cup Final 2-0. Kuemper, who faced only 16 shots in Game 2, struggled to handle the Avalanche’s lack of recent adversity.
To be fair, Colorado isn’t doing much to support either of its goalies. The Lightning is getting the upper hand in the races and battles after flipping the narrative from Game 2. They are outperforming Colorado in its own sport. Andrei Vasilevskiy now appears to be constrained. For the Avalanche, that might be even worse than watching their own starting struggle.
Lightning in the lead through one
The opening period of the Lightning’s game was noticeably more about survival than an offensive reaction to the Avalanche’s 2-0 series lead for a large portion of it. Around four minutes into the game, they required Andrei Vasilevskiy’s leg save on J.T. Compher. They required the assistance of the NHL Situation Room to remove Valeri Nichushkin’s floater goal due to an offside. They hadn’t scored since the second overtime of Game 1 and required Anthony Cirelli’s creative “no shot” goal to get past Darcy Kuemper and into the net.
But in an instant, they were back to looking like the Lightning. From a Devon Toews pass, Ondrej Palat stole the puck. In the offensive zone, Nikita Kucherov attracts defenders to him. Steven Stamkos assisted Palat’s goal to make it 2-1, giving the underappreciated winger a point in his ninth consecutive postseason home game. Additionally, despite additional pressure from Colorado, Vasilevskiy managed to hold onto the lead. When they are in the lead after one frame, the Lightning is 6-1.