The Tampa Bay Lightning journeyed to Colorado for the first time since last year’s Stanley Cup and emerged with a 4-3 shootout win over the defending Cup champions to sweep the season series. After trailing 2-0 in the game, and 3-2 in the third period, the Lightning returned to their Find-A-Way mentality to tie things up on a goal from Vlad Namestnikov in the final frame.
After Colorado jumped to a two-goal lead thanks to Artturi Lehkonen and Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov tapped home a feed from Brayden Point to cut the lead in half. Anthony Cirelli tied it early in the third. After Denis Malgin quickly restored the lead, Namestnikov made a nice move to tie things up. A scoreless overtime period led to a shootout where Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 43 saves for the Bolts while Alexandar Georgiev stopped 32 for the Avalanche.
Nick Paul returned to the line-up for the Lightning while Nick Perbix was a scratch.
Not only were the Avs looking for a little revenge for their loss to the Lightning a week ago, they were also playing in front of their home crowd for the first time in two weeks. So it’s not a surprise that they came out with a little bit of a jump. Less than a minute into the game they ended any speculation on if Vasilevskiy would post another shutout.
Artturi Lehkonen (Nathan MacKinnon, Val Nichushkin ) 1-0 Avalanche
Vasy tried to bat the initial shot out of danger but it got caught up in the crowd in front of the net. Nathan MacKinnon was the first to the puck and his backhand pass was right on the stick. With a screen in front of him, Vasilevskiy tried to make himself as big as possible and hope the puck hit him. It didn’t.
For the rest of the period he was solid through, making 16 saves as the Avalanche generated 10 scoring chances. His solid play in net allowed the Lightning to find their skates, as did a power play midway through the period. They didn’t score on it, but they were able to slow down the Colorado pressure and apply some of their own as they were credited with 7 high-danger chances at 5v5.
Most of it came from the reunited top line as Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and Brandon Hagel were on the ice for 11 shot attempts and 3 of the dangerous chances. Ross Colton probably came the closest to leveling the score as he was sent in all alone on a nice pass by Nick Paul. Unfortunately, Colton ran out of real estate and wasn’t able to finish off the backhand.
An early second period power play for the Lightning was almost a disaster as Andrew Cogliano had an open lane and fired off a tough shot that Vasilevskiy blockered off. The Lightning had some decent zone time with the first unit, but their best chance ended up being a sharp angle shot from Kucherov that he chunked a bit. As the advantage expired, Vasilevskiy had to be strong on an clear shot by Evan Rodrigues.
Colorado was gaining momentum and their top line soon doubled the lead.
Nathan MacKinnon (Bo Byram) 2-0 Avalanche
Point had a chance to clear it, but Byram kept it in and the Lightning were a little out of position. Byram was able to slide in down low and his pass made it through traffic to MacKinnon at the back post. It was a nice bit of handiwork to get his stick in position to deflect the puck home.
The Avs continued to pile up the chances as they had 39 shot attempts with 30 pucks finding their way on net with 8 minutes to go in the period. However, the Lightning have the nice ability to swing things in the blink of an eye. After a Colorado shot from JT Compher missed the net and cleared the zone, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov flew threw the zone and had the edge. Point’s lead pass to Kucherov eluded Devon Toews and was right on the stick. Kuch tapped it home for his 21st goal of the season.
Nikita Kucherov (Brayden Point) 2-1 Colorado
Following the goal the Bolts went on the power play with a chance to tie things up. Once again the special teams let them down. Colorado pushed the puck to the innocuous areas on the ice and outside of a Stamkos wrister that Georgiev handled easily, there wasn’t much pressure.
Alex Killorn and JT Compher decided that Valentine’s Night was a good night to dance after Killorn was whistled for knocking down the Colorado goaltender.
No love lost on Valentine's Day! #GoBolts pic.twitter.com/U5oxaFP4rU— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) February 15, 2023
The Lightning killed off the penalty thanks to a toe save from Vasilevskiy.
Vasilevskiy somehow got a toe on this redirection from Lehkonen. pic.twitter.com/PqUozzxbxv— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) February 15, 2023
The period ended with the Lightning pressing and Corey Perry almost snuck a goal in at the end but his shot pinged off the crossbar.
It didn’t take long for the Lightning to tied things up in the third period. Steven Stamkos streaked into the zone but had the puck knocked off his stick by Andreas Englund. The Captain stayed with it and fed it to an open Anthony Cirelli. Tony Two Goals didn’t get all of it and the lack of pace handcuffed Georgiev a bit and the puck was in the back of the net.
Anthony Cirelli (Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman) 2-2
The lead didn’t last long as Denis Malgin came off the bench and drifted to the slot without opposition. His shot beat Vasilevskiy cleanly and the Avs were back in the lead.
Denis Malgin (unassisted), 3-2 Avalanche
For a game that seemed destined to hit the under, the offense really picked up in the first five minutes of the final period. Corey Perry made a nice keep at the Colorado blueline and Vlad Namestnikov was first to the loose puck. He was then able to get the puck to his backhand and slide it past Georgiev as he was getting chopped to the ice by a turned about and twisted up Bo Byram.
Vlad Namestnikov (Corey Perry), 3-3
The Lightning were attacking in waves and it seemed that the Avalanche defense, depleted by injuries was starting to feel the effects of chasing Brayden Point and his mates around the ice all night. A late power play for the Lightning went unrewarded as the teams stayed knotted at 3 goals a piece.
Vasilevskiy, who hadn’t faced too many shots since the middle of the second period had to fire it back up with time dwindling as he sticked aside a blast from Sam Girard and then calmly gloved a wide-open chance from Compher.
We're in overtime and it's in large part thanks to this save by Vasy #TBLvsCOL— Lightning Radio (@BoltsRadio) February 15, 2023
As called by @DaveMishkin
: @1025TheBone or Lightning Radio 24/7 on the Lightning app pic.twitter.com/BHkIYM8Rqz
At the other end Kucherov stickhandled through the defense and had Georgiev falling down, but couldn’t slide it underneath the goaltender.
Overtime solved nothing. The Lightning’s best chance came from Stamkos as he got the inside track on Rodrigues and cut through the crease. He had some daylight but the shot hit the outside of the net. Colorado had a lot of puck possession but no real solid shots.
To the shootout!
Stamkos - goal
Rodrigues - save
Kucherov - save
MacKinnon - save
Point - post
Rantanen - save
The Lightning with a nice claw back win to pick up two points after a slow start. They really turned up the defense from the middle of the second period on until the last few minutes of the third.
Their reward? A late night flight to Arizona and a game against the Coyotes tomorrow.