Set out to prove their Game 1 overtime win was not just beginner’s luck, the Colorado Avalanche made a statement in Game 2 with a 16-save shutout in a 7-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in dominant fashion. Now the Avalanche are halfway to winning the Stanley Cup currently up 2-0 in the series.
How this first period unfolded couldn’t have gone any better for the Avalanche except if they had scored on every opportunity. It almost felt like that, however.
The Avalanche just played the best first period I've seen a team play in the playoffs this year.— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) June 19, 2022
Val Nichushkin started with what he does best and got the forecheck going which led to a very early power-play opportunity. It took until the second unit got on the ice for the game’s first score and it was Nichushkin who got rewarded at 2:54 on a fantastic pass from Andre Burakovsky.
The party was just getting started with Josh Manson creating a 2-on-1 with Andrew Cogliano in his return to the lineup after hand surgery. Manson elected to take the shot and scored the second Avalanche goal at 7:55.
Burakovsky feeling some confidence from his Game 1 overtime tally potted another one at 13:52 as a Mikko Rantanen shot created a rebound Burakovsky was able to tap home. A missed power-play opportunity and some chippiness brought the first period to a close but the Avalanche held an 11-5 shot advantage and the commanding 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.
The first intermission wasn’t the reset button the Lightning needed as the Avalanche came out of the break continuing to pressure all of the ice. Nichushkin’s beast mode activation continued as at 4:51 Rantanen feathered a perfect pass to him all alone at the net-front off of a turnover.
As the domination tour continued it appeared the Avalanche started playing even faster and rejuvenated Darren Helm found the dagger at 16:26 to beat Andre Vasilevskiy for the fifth time in the contest on a breakaway. Predictably, the end-period physical retaliation began as Corey Perry was tossed for tackling JT Compher which gave the Avalanche a power play. Nothing much happened on that man advantage so the score was 5-0 after two periods of play.
Tampa Bay might have had a flicker of life when Steven Stamkos drew a tripping call at the beginning of the third frame. Any hope was quickly doused when Makar made a fantastic swipe of the puck at the goal line on the penalty kill and then turned around and scored shorthanded on a breakaway he created himself at 2:04. Plays like that might win him some hardware.
After Makar took a cross-check the Avalanche headed back to the power play at the midpoint of the period. Of course, it was Makar who scored the seventh and final goal at 9:49 as he switched places with MacKinnon and shot from above the left circle. The Lightning once again tried to send a message with borderline play and the Avalanche made them pay. Makar is now the first defenseman since Paul Coffey did in 1996 to score a power-play and shorthanded goal in the same playoff game.
Amid the “We want the Cup” chants from the sellout crowd, which were only interrupted to sing the third-period victory anthem “All the Small Things”, the Avalanche ran out the final minutes in this Game 2 to preserve the win and get Darcy Kuemper his first shutout of the postseason with 16 saves.
From start to finish this was as dominant of an effort seen by this Avalanche team and they picked the biggest stage to perform it. As eye-popping as a 30-16 shot advantage for Colorado is the deeper analytics indicate an even greater tilt in the ice with a whopping 83% of expected goals to the home team.
Alex Newhook on the verge of a healthy scratch came to play. The two assists he earned were both from hard work on the boards and he was noticeably more involved with the puck and winning battles. Though some of it was dictated by the score the 16 minutes of time on ice was a significant bump and reward for his hard work in this contest.
Tampa Bay could take solace in the fact that for the most part Colorado’s big guns have been left off the scoreboard. However, that dam might finally break especially with Makar potting two goals in garbage time. It’s been scoring by committee run and when the team is getting goals from the likes of Manson and Helm it is a very difficult team to contain.
The first casualty of the series could be Andre Burakovsky who left in the second period. He’s been taking days off of practice to deal with what’s believed a foot injury but also took a shot off the hand before he left. There was no real update on him after the game.
Win or lose the journey for this Avalanche team is nearly over. They have been a treat to watch and are a team worthy of a championship. As the team would say the job isn’t done yet and this Tampa Bay Lightning squad will give it everything they have but your Colorado Avalanche are now two wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup.
The series shifts to Tampa Bay for the first in a pair of games starting at 6:00 p.m. MT on Monday, June 20.