Bolts Surge Back to Life as Avs Tumble in Jekyll and Hyde Game 3

In the first two games of the series, Tampa Bay has shown fans 2 different sides of the team. The team that fights to come back, and the team that forgot their sticks in the hotel room. After a 7-0 blowout in Game 2, the Lightning returned home to try and prove they belong in the finals for the third year in a row. That’s a big ask since Colorado has been outscoring opponents 23-11 in the first period this post season and were undefeated on the road. That is a road record that tied the 1999 Colorado team, with the 2012 LA Kings holding the top spot at 10 consecutive road wins.

Brayden Point was a scratch in tonight’s game due to an injury that has been nagging him the entire series, and Colorado’s Andrei Burakovsky was scratched as well for a hand injury that was the result of blocking a shot in Game 2.

As the puck dropped, it was clear that Tampa Bay was playing much better. They were faster on the ice, their forechecks were making an impact and they went up 6-0 shots on goal which is something the Avalanche were not used to. At the 15:00 mark, Nathan MacKinnon made a pass to Valeri Nichushkin who sank the puck. However, after a lengthy review it was determined that the play was offsides. You could hear the collective sigh of relief from both fans and Tampa Bay players.

3:29 later, Gabriel Landeskog found a rebound off a Miko Rantanen shot and was able to push the puck across the goal line to put the Avalanche up 1-0. Colorado has scored first in all three games of the series so far and have won each time they scored first.

Anthony Cirelli didn’t like falling behind again, and took matters into his own hands, scoring on Darcy Kuemper with just under 7 minutes left in the first period.

Not even two minutes later, Ondrej Palat took a pass from Steven Stamkos to get another one past Kuemper to put the Lightning up 2-1. This would be the first time that Tampa Bay has had the lead in the series. Tampa Bay was out shooting the Avalanche for a majority of the first period, which is something that hasn’t happened almost the entire post season.

By the end of the first period, Colorado seemed to be finding their game and were able to pull ahead in the shots on goal department. Additionally, Tampa Bay lost Nick Paul for an injury that occurred along the boards. This is a major issue for the Lightning, as he is the one the team has relied upon to fill the void left behind by an injured Point. Regardless of injuries and issues, the Lightning showed up with fast and physical play forcing the Avalanche to play from behind going into the 2nd period.

The 2nd period opened with a bang. As if Tampa Bay didn’t already have all the momentum on their side, Paul returned to the bench and punched one past Kuemper off an assist from Ross Colton just 1 minute and 26 seconds into the period. This broke a 9 game streak of not getting a point for Colton. This also adds another $150 dollars to Paul’s charity. Paul has dedicated $150 for every goal he scores to benefit mental health after losing a childhood friend to suicide.

Colorado went on another power play shortly after, and Landeskog scored for the 2nd time tonight on an assist from Rantanen. Both goals and assists came on power plays to this point. Colorado was now 10 of their last 21 on power play opportunities and is the 2nd multi-point game for Landeskog in the series.

From there, things were downhill for the Avalanche. At 12:08, Stamkos took a pass from Nikita Kucherov to burry one on Kuemper giving the Lightning a 4-2 lead. Less than 4 minutes later, Pat Maroon was able to drive down deep and roll one up the blocker arm of Kuemper. Kuemper was benched after that goal and was replaced by Pavel Francouz. Francouz is 6-0 in the post season with one shutout to his name.

With the score at 5-2, Colorado was staring at losing Game 3 if things did not change. Unfortunately, they weren’t changing yet.

Tampa Bay on the power play with just 5 minutes left in the 2nd, and Corey Perry was able to track a loose puck behind Francouz to slap it across the goal line giving the lightning a 6-2 lead and the Avalanche their biggest deficit of the post season. This is the first goal for Perry in 9 games and ended the 0 for the last 16 power play drought the Lightning have endured.

The first half of the 3rd period was largely uneventful. The biggest event in those first 10 minutes was Vasilevskiy absolutely robbing J.T. Compher for the third time on the night, blocking all 5 of Compher’s shots on goal.

With 2 minutes until the end of regulation, a fight broke out with Andrew Cogliano at the center of it. Tempers had begun to flare earlier in the 2nd period, however this fight turned into an all out boxing match with haymakers being thrown by both sides. This fight resulted in another power play opportunity for the Lightning to take advantage of.

As regulation ended, another scrum popped up in front of the benches, but the Game was over with Tampa Bay showing up for the first time in the series. This is the first time in 103 years that a team has won the next game after losing 7-0 in the previous one. The Lightning extended their home ice winning streak to 8, while dealing the Avalanche their first road loss of the post season.

This series is far from over, however the team that goes up 2-0 in the series tends to win that series 90% of the time. If the Lightning manage to come back and win the series, they will be the first team in NHL history to come back after being down 2-0 and win in both the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.

If you are interested in catching the Game 4 action, tune into ABC on Wednesday at 8PM EST where the Lightning will look to tie things up at 2 and the Avalanche look to come back after an embarrassing performance to end the home streak of Tampa Bay.


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