Before the puck dropped, the game could have gone either way. The Colorado Avalanche had seven wins on the road, and the Tampa Bay Lightning was undefeated at home. With a 2-0 lead, the Avalanche were in the best position, but that undoubtedly made the Lightning even more hungry for a win. In the end, it was a disastrous second period that cost Colorado this game.
The first period
The first period was a mixed experience for the Avalanche. There were some tense moments when the puck was in their zone, but Darcy Kuemper was able to make a couple of big saves. When they did get a scoring chance it was a good one, however, Andrei Vasilevskiy responded in kind, keeping the game scoreless.
On a pass from Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin opened the score for the Avalanche. This looked to be the start Colorado needed, however it was only the beginning of their troubles. Tampa Bay challenged for off-side, and after a significant amount of deliberation, it was determined that the goal did not stand. A difficult moment for the Avalanche, not only because the goal was overturned but because the time it took to make the call really took away some of their momentum.
Colorado successfully killed off a J.T. Compher penalty and was soon rewarded with a power-play of their own. This seemed to end their streak of bad luck for a little while, as Gabriel Landeskog opened the score on a good goal, giving the Avalanche the lead.
They went back on the penalty kill which went well for them, including a great chance from Devon Toews as the Lightning made a poor line change. Just as the game returned to 5-on-5 the Lightning responded with a rather awkward goal from Anthony Cirelli.
A poor defensive pass from Devon Toews turned the puck over to Tampa Bay who took the lead at 14:54. Despite increasing the intensity, Colorado was unable to pass Vasilevskiy, entering the first intermission down a goal.
The second period
It didn’t even take 90 seconds for the Lightning to score in the second period, the result of another poor defensive effort from Colorado. It still seemed as though the Avalanche could take control of the game once again, especially with a big chance from J.T. Compher, followed by a power play. Power plays seemed to be what Colorado needed. They certainly worked for Landeskog, who scored his second of the night.
Unfortunately, a combination of penalties and some terrible defensive mistakes resulted in Tampa Bay scoring three more goals. After the fifth goal, Darcy Kuemper was pulled to be replaced by Pavel Francouz. Down 6-2, it was difficult if not impossible to imagine how the Avalanche might recover in the third.
The third period
The third period was much better for Colorado. Although they were unable to convert any of their chances to goals, they had a total of 12 shots on goal, double that of Tampa Bay.
The avalanche successfully killed off an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called against Andrew Cogliano at 12:03. Things got heated towards the end of the penalty kill when Toews knocked Nikita Kucherov into the boards. Kucherov responded by punching Toews, however, Devon Toews was the only one called for the penalty. It was frustrating, especially as it came not long after Kucherov hit Josh Manson into the glass from behind.
The period ended with a fight between Logan O’Connor and Ross Colton, as well as scrapping between Cogliano and Pat Maroon. Multiple penalties resulted from this, but ultimately it ended with Colorado going on one final penalty kill.
The third period ended scorelessly but it can’t be said it was without any excitement.
From the score, you’d think Colorado played terribly. The second period was pretty bad and there were some really concerning moments, particularly from the defensive side. Neither the first or third periods were terrible. The Avalanche had plenty of opportunities to score and some of them, particularly a few really good shots from Compher, was just unlucky. Darcy Kuemper had a difficult night and Andrei Vasilevskiy played far better than he did in the last game. It will be interesting to see who starts in net for the Avalanche in the next game.
The off-side call in the first period wasn’t bad, however, it was frustrating that the Lightning was given so much time to decide they were going to challenge. It really slowed down the pace of the game, especially given how much time it took to review the goal. It’s hard to say, given the poor defensive work from the team, whether this ultimately made much difference. But I hope we don’t see too much of that going into the next couple of games.
There’s lots of good to take away from this game as well as plenty of lessons. Ultimately Colorado still holds a 2-1 lead in the Final and it’s far from over.
The Final continues in Tampa Bay on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. MT.