TAMPA, Fla. – Page turned? How about page burned?
Saturday night’s Game 2 debacle in Denver did not carry over in the least to Game 3 at Amalie Arena on Monday night.
No, sir. The two-time defending Cup champs asserted themselves for 60 minutes in a 6-2 win. It was the Lightning’s eighth straight win on home ice following a Game 3 loss in the opening round to Toronto.
The victory gets Tampa Bay on the board in a Stanley Cup final the Avs lead, 2-1. The Lightning will look to even the series in Game 4 on Wednesday night (8:00, ABC) at Amalie.
Following the 7-0 loss in Game 2, Lightning coach Jon Cooper noted how his team cannot continue to chase the game.
On Monday night, the skate was on the other foot as the Lightning were not only the ones being chased, but ultimately skated away from an Avalanche team that had won each of its seven road games in these playoffs.
That is not to say it was the Lightning’s game from the drop of the puck. The first several minutes of the opening period saw both teams have prime scoring opportunities and, following a video review (offside) that took a Colorado goal off the board five minutes in, the Lightning found themselves trailing 1-0 when the Avs’ Gabriel Landeskog connected at 8:19 on the powerplay.
When Anthony Cirelli knotted the score almost five minutes later, it was the beginning of a dominating 27-minute stretch that saw the Lightning score twice more in the opening period and three times in the second period to take a 6-2 lead. Six different players found the back of the net.
What stood out about the scoring spree, and in underscoring the Lightning’s effectiveness in all three zones, is the first five of those six goals were of the five-on-five variety.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, whose name fans chanted during the introductions, made 37 saves and had to come up big on a number of occasions.
While so much went well for the Lightning, Nikita Kucherov, who had two assists, was a plus-3 and had six shots on goal after not recording one in Game 2, skated off the ice and went down the tunnel with about six minutes to play in the third period.
Kucherov went into the attacking right-wing boards awkwardly when he was taken down by Colorado defenseman Devon Toews, who was whistled for crosschecking.