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Colorado Avalanche Lose 1-0 Thriller to the Tampa Bay Lightning

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Andrei Vasilevskiy stops 22 shots in a solid shut-out effort.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche lost a highly entertaining game on Wednesday, dropping a 1-0 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Avs were coming off a four-game road trip that saw them take 7 of a possible 8 points, and were looking to continue the trend back home at the Pepsi Center.

On the plus side, the game was broadcast on NBCSN as a part of Wednesday Night Hockey. It was refreshing to see the Avalanche on a Wednesday on NBCSN, as for the last number of years, “Wednesday Night Rivalry” was some combination of either the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Capitals, Bruins, Red Wings or Blackhawks (with the 2nd half being some combination of the Kings, Ducks or Sharks.). But despite the refreshing change of pace, the outcome of the Semyon Varlomov and Andre Vasilevskiy battle wasn’t quite what we’d hoped for.

First Period

The Avs and Bolts both came out skating hard - and as a result, both teams got an early PP.

Both teams managed to show off some chances, to boot. Sven Andrighetto hit the post on a one-timer on the Avs PP, while Ian Cole managed to put up a big block on a Stamkos one-timer coming the other way (there’s no way that doesn't hurt.)

At the end of the Lightning PP, the Avs got a break with MacKinnon leading the way. He fed it to Landeskog on the rush and he buried it. 1-0 Avs.

But wait.......

As quickly as Colorado found hope, it was snatched. Tyson Jost was ruled offside, overturning the goal.

By the letter of the law, Jost was easily offside. On the Tampa Bay Bench, head coach Jon Cooper absolutely made the right call in challenging the goal. His skate was off the ice before the puck crossed the blue line; it was close, but still offside.

Of course, the letter of the law didn’t sit all that well with the Colorado crowd. Although Jost had been offside, the move had absolutely no impact on that goal.

Not for the first time this season, the goal was called back — and the rule itself came under scrutiny. For the Avalanche, though, it was a momentum killer, and one that would cost them the game.

Second Period

Tampa started the period strong, trying to build on their low shot total from the first period. They tried to spread out the Avalanche with long stretch passes and a whole lot of speed — specifically from *squints to look at capfriendly.com’s Tampa Bay page* yup, definite NHL 19 create-a-player Mathieu Joseph. The older brother of Arizona Coyotes first rounder Pierre-Olivier Joseph, once a lesser-known fourth round prospect, caught eyes on both sides, flying all over the ice to create chances for the Lightning.

The Avs and Bolts continued the fast paced game, trading chances. However, both Varlomov and Vasilevskiy came up big to keep the score 0-0 after two.

Gabriel Bourque had a good chance on a cross-ice pass from Erik Johnson and drew a penalty by Alex Killorn, but Vasilevskiy came up big. Nikita Kucherov had a magnificent chance to end the period and missed (getting BIG mad in the process). It seemed inevitable that someone would score — but after two, nothing.

The shots after two were 17-12. You would think that only holding the Lightning to 12 shots would mean the Avs shut them down, but make no mistake, they had some quality chances.

Third Period

Landeskog opened the period grade A chance in front — and the way things have been going for the captain at the moment, you would think it was going in the net. Vasilevsky made a fantastic glove save, though, and the puck trickled into the corner — and that set the tone once again.

The Lightning were ready for the period too, and after a lot of early shots and couple of net-front scrambles, they ended up on a PP. They kept up the pressure, and finally managed to pot one when Kucherov finally struck gold.

Erik Johnson made the dive to try and intercept the pass to Stamkos, but missed — and when Soderberg and Bourque tried to cover by rushing to his vacated area, Stamkos fed a wide open Kucherov to score.

After the Lightning goal the Avs pushed the pace, trying desperately to tie the game.

MacKinnon got a half breakaway with Ryan McDonagh staying with him stride for stride, but McDonagh made a great defensive play to break it up without taking a penalty (because, you know, Ryan McDonagh).

The Avs got a few more chances after that — but ultimately, they fell short and the game ended 1-0.

Takeaways

- The Tampa Bay Lightning are good. Like, really good. This is the definition of a complete team. Great top line, complementary scoring down the forward chart, great defense, and a stellar goaltender. The Avalanche hung with them, but if they want to be a playoff team, these are the kinds of games you need to win to show people you are a serious contender.

- There’s a reason media and fans alike have been talking about secondary scoring. It’s because beyond the top line, the Avalanche don’t have any consistent scoring threats. Tyson Jost on the 4th line with Marko Dano and Gabriel Bourque makes little to no sense. Right now, I think you staple him and Kerfoot together and find someone to play on the opposite wing. Personally, I’d like to see if Calvert could maybe open up some space for those two as a relentless forechecker who digs out pucks (see Zach Hyman for the Maple Leafs.)

- Here I am, on top of that faceoff hill I’m willing to die on. To be fair, they did do a better job tonight overall. But with the goalie pulled around the 1:30 mark of the 3rd, they were unable to control the puck off the draw and it resulted in the Avs having to leave the zone and come back a couple times. They were never really able to get set up 6-5 and it cost them real opportunities to tie the game.

- Semyon Varlomov looks truly dialed in. I don’t think anyone really believes that goal tonight was Varly’s fault. He was sharp all night, moving quickly and staying in good position. He and Grubauer together are looking like a really strong tandem moving forward.

- Overall, this was a great game where a bounce or two could have changed the outcome. I’m not overly concerned about losing a game in October to a serious Stanley Cup Contender, despite what you just read above!

The Avalanche will look to get back to their winning ways they had on the road trip with a Friday night matchup against the Ottawa Senators (oh good grief, for all sorts of reasons, please beat that team!)