The Lightning strike back: Is Game 3 a turning point in the Stanley Cup Final?


TAMPA, Fla. — What a distinction 48 hours and a venue change makes.

Dealing with a 2-0 deficit within the 2022 Stanley Cup Final — and coming off of a 7-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche that felt much more lopsided than that rating — the Tampa Bay Lightning returned residence and threw an epic counterpunch, skating off with a 6-2 victory in entrance of a raucous crowd at Amalie Enviornment.

The tenor of the sequence appears to have shifted, and introduced on a legit goalie controversy for the Avs, who changed Darcy Kuemper halfway via the second interval of this blowout loss.

What did we study on this contest? And has the momentum of all the Stanley Cup Ultimate shifted within the Lightning’s favor?

It is a sequence once more

After the Lightning had been embarrassed in Sport 2 with a 7-0 defeat, captain Steven Stamkos mentioned, “Let’s discover out what we’re manufactured from once we get again residence.”

What a response in Sport 3 from the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. They defended to the requirements, limiting an opponent to 2 objectives or much less at residence for the sixth straight recreation. They bought star performances from their high gamers — Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov had multipoint video games, whereas goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had 37 saves.

Solely 5 occasions in NHL historical past has the defending Stanley Cup champion trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff sequence. None got here again to win, and 4 of the 5 sequence resulted in a sweep.

The Lightning do not have to fret about that now. It is a sequence once more. — Greg Wyshynski

Deliver the thunder

Monday marked virtually one month to the day that Colorado final tasted defeat. They Avalanche got here into the Cup Ultimate with a playoff report of 12-2. In Sport 3, Tampa Bay served its guests a heaping slice of humble pie.

The Avalanche thought Valeri Nichushkin scored the sport’s first objective. Jon Cooper efficiently challenged for offside. Deflating.

Then Gabriel Landeskog truly scored on the facility play. 1-0, Colorado. However not for lengthy. As a result of after a totally dominant efficiency in Sport 2, the Avalanche did not (or could not) execute to the identical stage. They weren’t profitable the races or the battles. They weren’t suffocating within the impartial zone. As a substitute of being pushed round, the Lightning struck again — repeatedly.

Colorado was at an obstacle with out Andre Burakovsky within the lineup following a shot block off the hand in Sport 2. Nazem Kadri (damaged thumb) additionally stays out. However that is no excuse. The Avalanche have lauded — and been lauded for — their depth all season. It failed them in Sport 3, whereas the Lightning’s depth allowed them to roll proper via.

And, it does not harm that Vasilevskiy was implausible. Darcy Kuemper, in the meantime, was pulled after permitting 5 objectives on 22 photographs, changed by Pavel Francouz. Incoming goalie controversy? Simply what the Avalanche do not want.

Tampa Bay was the higher workforce in each facet of Sport 3. Colorado bought two objectives out of Landeskog on the facility play and was thwarted most in every single place else. It was the most important margin by which the Avalanche have misplaced within the playoffs, eclipsing a 4-1 defeat to the St. Louis Blues on — checks notes — Might 19.

Suffice it to say, that is uncharted territory for Colorado within the playoffs. The place do the Avalanche go from right here? — Kristen Shilton



Steven Stamkos attributes enjoying on their residence ice as an element aiding the Lightning’s potential to get again into the sequence.

No false begin

The beginning of Sport 3 was what the Lightning wanted, and what they had been lacking of their earlier two losses.

Within the first two video games of the sequence, the Lightning discovered themselves down by a number of objectives inside the first 10 minutes of the sport. These poor begins on the highway impacted all the things else within the recreation. They could not set up something they needed to do to decelerate the Avalanche assault. They expended vitality making an attempt to climb out of these holes, leaving little left to defend Colorado or set up their very own offense.

These had been additionally self-dug holes. The Lightning gave the Avalanche a 5-on-3 energy play within the first interval of Sport 1. They took a penalty 1:01 into Sport 2. Colorado transformed on each probabilities.

As he usually does, winger Pat Maroon supplied sage evaluation of the scenario for Tampa Bay, and the way the Lightning may apply the teachings discovered in Video games 1 and a pair of to Sport 3.

“You get these guys feeling good, feeling the puck, it is a totally different ballgame. So keep out of the field and play our recreation. Play Tampa Bay Lightning hockey. Don’t be concerned in regards to the rating. Don’t be concerned in regards to the final result,” he mentioned. “Pay attention, in the event that they rating the primary objective, that is tremendous. Simply preserve enjoying the way in which we’re enjoying, preserve discovering methods to create offense.”

The Avalanche did rating the primary objective. Effectively, finally they did, as Nichushkin’s change-up shot that beat Vasilevskiy was wiped off the board by video evaluation resulting from an offside. Landeskog’s power-play tally at 8:19 made it 1-0, however as Maroon instructed, the Lightning saved enjoying like they had been enjoying.

Middle Anthony Cirelli went to the online onerous and the puck slid via Kuemper at 13:03 to tie the sport. Then the Lightning’s talent took over, as Palat intercepted a go, Kucherov drew defenders within the attacking zone and Stamkos used that room to seek out Palat for his tenth objective of the playoffs.

Tampa Bay completed the primary interval with a 2-1 benefit. The Lightning are actually 7-1 within the playoffs once they lead after the primary. It wasn’t an ideal opening body, nevertheless it was adequate to construct a basis on which they constructed their Sport 3 win. — Wyshynski

GOAT to goat?

Kuemper stays a playoff enigma. And it bought him pulled from Sport 3.

The Avs’ beginning goalie was dialed in rapidly, making massive stops early within the first interval. His positioning was hardly textbook, however the puck stayed out. Colorado was struggling via the impartial zone, a standard energy of the workforce, so Kuemper’s contributions had been much more noticeable in getting the Avalanche a 1-0 lead.

He was clutch once more on Tampa Bay’s first power-play likelihood. Proper earlier than the wheels fell off.

Cirelli beat Kuemper on Tampa Bay’s second man benefit with a shot that regarded extra like a failed dangling try. Palat put a puck previous him cleanly with one other saveable strike. On and on, the Lightning scored, till Kuemper had allowed 5 objectives on 22 photographs (for a .773 save proportion) halfway via the second.

Kuemper wasn’t making the stops he ought to have made. The more durable stuff stayed out. Why? Who is aware of. Both manner, it was hey, Pavel Francouz.

It was the best name by coach Jared Bednar. As Vasilevskiy bought higher and higher on the different finish, Kuemper was floundering. He was down too early, not monitoring the puck properly and the Lightning had been choosing him aside.

Sport 3 was the primary time since Colorado performed St. Louis within the second spherical that Kuemper had been known as upon to step up. He failed — reasonably sadly — in that project.

Francouz was tremendous in reduction, making 9 saves on 10 photographs.

What’s going to Bednar do now? Persist with Francouz, who entered Sport 3 with a 6-0 report, .906 save proportion and a pair of.86 goals-against common within the postseason? Or give Kuemper the good thing about the doubt like Jon Cooper did for Vasilevskiy after a tough Sport 1? Which goalie realistically offers Colorado one of the best likelihood if Vasilevskiy is again in beast mode?

It is a massive determination. All that hangs within the steadiness is Colorado’s hopes of profitable the Cup. — Shilton

Excellent news, dangerous information for Tampa Bay’s protection

The Lightning did not chase Colorado throughout Sport 3. They did not permit the Avalanche many odd-man probabilities. They stayed of their construction, preserving these marauding Colorado forwards in entrance of them and providing puck assist within the defensive zone. A workforce that regarded prefer it was going to get skated out of the sequence instantly was in a position to match the Avalanche’s vitality. Good protection and an improved forecheck will try this.

The reasonably gorgeous end result: The Avalanche had been held with out an even-strength objective in Sport 3, after scoring seven of them within the earlier two video games. It was simply the second time in 17 postseason video games that the Avalanche failed to attain at even energy. One large issue: The Lightning had the final line change at residence. That meant they might preserve Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov away from the Nathan MacKinnon line and ship Anthony Cirelli’s checking line with Alex Killorn and Brandon Hagel on the market towards the Avalanche’s high trio.

Tampa Bay’s shutdown line made such a distinction within the Jap Convention finals towards the New York Rangers when it was assigned the Mike Zibanejad line beginning in Sport 3. They did not have the shot-attempt benefit towards the MacKinnon line — who may? — however they saved them off the board at even energy.

The Lightning talked about having left Andrei Vasilevskiy “out to dry” in Sport 2. They gave him much more assist in Sport 3, and he responded in sort with 37 saves on 39 photographs.

Now the dangerous information: The Avalanche continued to dominate on the facility play. The Lightning entered Sport 3 killing simply 70.8% of the facility performs they confronted on residence ice. Colorado scored twice on the facility play and now has 5 objectives with the person benefit within the sequence. — Wyshynski

Star snuffed out?

The Avalanche had been lacking key items from the lineup in Sport 3. One of many ones obtainable did not assist make up for it.

Nathan MacKinnon hasn’t scored a objective within the Cup Ultimate, notching solely a pair of assists in three video games. A lot of the main target has, rightfully, gone to all of the Avalanche’s depth contributors. Bednar has repeatedly acknowledged he does not need MacKinnon to place the workforce on his again. That is not precisely what Colorado wanted in Sport 3. It simply wanted slightly star energy.

MacKinnon would have earned an help if Nichuskin’s first objective stood; it was a superb helper at that. The Avalanche simply wanted slightly extra out of MacKinnon after that, to match what Tampa Bay had cooking. Stamkos and Cirelli had been scoring alongside Corey Perry and Pat Maroon, because the Lightning bought manufacturing from up and down the lineup.

Cale Makar has rebounded from a tough (for him) Sport 1, was wonderful in Sport 2 and stable once more on Monday. He deftly broke up a 2-on-1 rush within the third interval that did not do a lot to assist Colorado’s probabilities, however was an instance of how rapidly he can tilt the ice and make an excellent play. Makar’s two-point evening additionally places him third general in NHL playoff scoring with seven objectives and 26 factors in 17 video games.

Backside line: It is time for MacKinnon to have an enormous evening. Like, Sport 5 within the second spherical towards St. Louis stage massive. It is not about placing stress on himself to be “The Man” each evening. However Colorado wants slightly enhance from somebody proper now, and MacKinnon can (and will) be the somebody to assist present it. — Shilton

One thing’s gotta give — or does it?

Enjoyable truth: Colorado had not misplaced a playoff recreation on the highway till Monday.

Here is one other: Tampa Bay hadn’t misplaced a playoff recreation at residence, both. They nonetheless have not.

Sport 3 was the primary time in Stanley Cup Ultimate historical past the place each groups entered using lively residence and highway profitable streaks of seven-plus video games.

That is an elite stage of “evenly matched.” Will we see that pattern proceed in Video games 4 via 7, and foreshadow the winner of this sequence? — Shilton

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