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No Point? No Problem. Lightning bounce back with 6-2 victory over the Avalanche

The offense found a rhythm and chased Darcy Kuemper.

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning returned to Amalie Arena with one thing on their mind - win. Despite trailing early, they not only won, but chased Colorado Avalanche starter Darcy Kuemper en route to a 6-2 victory in Game Three. The series now stands at 2-1 in favor of Colorado. Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat had first period goals, while Nick Paul, Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon, and Corey Perry tallied in the middle frame.

The Avalanche failed to score at 5v5 with Gabriel Landeskog recording the only offense on the power play with two goals. Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong in net with 37 saves on 39 shots. Kuemper stopped 17 of 22 before yielding to Pascal Francouz who stopped 9 of 10 in relief.

Brayden Point was a game-time decision and that decision was that the Lightning would go with Riley Nash. Whatever injury has been bothering Point made it so he couldn’t go tonight. On the Colorado side, Andre Burakovsky was out for the Avalanche as was Nazem Kadri.

The Lightning did something in the first period that we didn’t see a lot of last game, establish a forecheck that led to a turnover. Alex Killorn won a board battle and the puck ended up on Ross Colton’s stick. His shot caught the edge of Kuemper’s right pad. No goal, but a little pressure and a sign of things to come.

Vasilevskiy made his presence known shortly after as he reacted quickly to a deflected shot and kicked it out with his right pad. Even more impressive is the stop on the follow-up as he robbed J.T. Compher with that same right pad. Also a sign of things to come.

Unfortunately it looked like Game Three would follow the same pattern as the first two - Colorado scoring early. The puck went in the Lightning net on a whiffed shot by Valeri Nichushkin. Seriously, that looked like one of my flubbed chips around the green. It floated over a prone Ryan McDonagh player and Vasilevskiy’s right shoulder. While Colorado celebrated zxxxxxthe Lightning coaches scrambled to the nearest monitor. After a lengthy review it was ruled offside!

The disallowed goal provided some energy and a strong forecheck led to a power play for the Lightning. Granted it’s a power play that hasn’t scored since the Eisenhower Administration (last 14 opportunities) but that just means they were due. Despite some early chances the advantage would be nixed due to an Ondrej Palat high-stick.

That penalty would prove costly as Mikko Rantanen’s shot hit Vasilevskiy, Gabriel Landeskog, and then fell to the ice where Landeskog swatted it in to give the Avalanche the game-opening goal for the third match in a row.

Gabriel Landeskog (Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar) Power Play, 1-0 Avalanche

Another power play for the Lightning produced some chances but no goals (thankfully for either side). Shortly after Anthony Cirelli made a nice place to get the puck in his own zone and through the neutral zone. He cut to to the net and tried to drag the puck to his backhand, but forgot the puck. It worked out as Kuemper also planned on the backhand and allowed a little gap along the ice. The puck skittered along and into the net. The unintentional Kucherov!

Anthony Cirelli (Pat Maroon) 1-1

Now that the Lightning realized they were able to score goals, they did it again. This time it was the top line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat working a nice passing play that left Palat with a golden chance and he buried it past Kuemper.

Ondrej Palat (Steven Stamkos), 2-1 Lightning

The Lightning finally had a lead in the series and they took it into the locker room (where Nick Paul had headed earlier following a hit from Josh Manson that left the Lightning forward limping). Colorado had a strong push at the end, but the Lightning kept the puck out of the net.

It was a welcome sign to see Nick Paul back on the bench to start the middle frame. An even more welcome sign - Nick Paul celebrating after scoring a goal early in the second period. Paul finished off a nice play from Ross Colton to give the Lightning a 3-1 lead.

Nick Paul (Ross Colton) 3-1 Lightning

The joy in the building was tempered a bit as Ross Colton headed to the box on a hooking call. Colorado scored on the power play, because that’s what they do.

Gabriel Landeskog (Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen) Power Play, 3-2 Lightning

This game was developing into what everyone thought the series would be (unlike Game Two). One team punches, the other counterpunches. The Avalanche captain scores, so the Lightning captain returns the favor. Kucherov makes a strong play on the boards and wheels a pass to an open Stamkos, who doesn’t miss.

Steven Stamkos (Nikita Kucherov, Zach Bogosian) 4-2 Lightning

Corey Perry was sent into the boards awkwardly by Josh Manson and Pat Maroon didn’t take kindly to it. Maroon and Manson went to the box and Colorado showed some life at 4-on-4, but after the penalties expired, Maroon and Kucherov worked a nice little give-and-go that led to Maroon going top-shelf, short side for the goal. The unexpected offense gave the Lightning a 5-2 lead and Kuemper the hook. In came Pascal Francouz in relief.

Patrick Maroon (Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman) 5-2 Lightning

The Lightning finally found paydirt with the extra skater. Corey Perry, lurking by the crease, pounced on a puck that was behind Francouz and tapped it in.

Corey Perry (Ondrej Palat, Victor Hedman) Power Play 6-2 Lightning

A little shoving match at the end of the period led to Mikhail Sergachev and Andrew Cogliano heading to the box. Nothing came of the first 15 seconds of the 4-on-4 and the period ended decidedly in favor of the Lightning.

An expected push from Colorado in the third led to nine shots on goal in the first five minutes, but Vasilevskiy held tall in net, making yet another nice stop on Compher. The Lightning bled the clock down, allowing some shots, but reverting back to the Lightning way of clearing out second chances.

They had a few rushes into the offensive zone over the first half of the period, but were more concerned with keeping the play in front of them and making the Avs have to move side to side in the neutral zone instead of up and down.

The Lightning did earn another power play when Perry annoyed Cogliano to the point where the Av took an unsportsmanlike conduct. Devon Toews gave them a five-on-three advantage for 25 seconds when he was whistled for a retaliation on Kucherov. Nikita was a little shaken up on the play and left the ice after taking an awkward one-timer.

A too-many-men penalty on the Bolts erased the rest of the advantage and Colorado pulled the goaltender to see if that could spark a little comeback. It didn’t and time continued to disappear into the ether. The game plan was simple, get control of the puck, flip it out and then send it down the ice.

An irritated Cogliano and an obliging Maroon sparked off another confrontation that led to Ross Colton and Logan O’Conner throwing haymakers. Cogliano ended up with the extra penalty and the Bolts were on the power play with 2:12 left in the game. Kucherov was not on the ice for the advantage as Cirelli took his spot with the first unit.

Despite not having two of the normal players on the unit, the Lightning had three good chances with Palat sending a shot just wide, Hedman denting the post, and Francouz having to make a nice save on a Stamkos one-timer.

They didn’t score, but it didn’t matter to the raucous crowd who rose to their feet to cheer on the victorious Lightning. Some folks were a little too enthusiastic and littered the ice with noisemakers, much to the displeasure of Stamkos.

A solid, if not perfect, win for the Lightning stopped the bleeding a bit. Now the Lightning have to even things back up on Wednesday in Game Four.