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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Avalanche beat Lightning in OT to open Stanley Cup Finals

DENVER ( Associated Press) — Andre Burakovsky scored 1:23 in overtime as the Colorado Avalanche opened the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday night with a 4-3 win over two-time defending champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

When three-time champion Patrick Maroon put the puck over the glass, Burakovsky ended it after Avalanche failed to score on a power play starting late in regulation. Burakovsky is one of only two Avalanche players to have won the cup.

The game probably wouldn’t have even reached OT if not for big penalty kills by Avalanche, who were 3 for 3 against Tampa Bay’s mighty power play. The final kill featured a crucial save by goaltender Darcy Kuempr and a series of clears by Norris Trophy finalist defenseman Kale Makar.

An earlier kill picked up momentum for Colorado, which opened the scoring on captain Gabriel Landeskog’s goal 40 seconds after Josh Manson’s penalty ended. The Manson—one of General Manager Joe Sakic’s expensive Trade Deadline pickups—built to keep the stick miner in line with some big hits.

Avalanche’s other time frame acquisitions also retained their knack for hitting key targets. Arturi Lehkonen scored his third goal of the first period after Valerie Nichuskin scored the second goal as part of an impressive performance across the ice.

Tampa Bay’s latest addition also played a major role, with Nick Paul dismissing Colorado defenseman Jack Johnson in a loose puck for the first goal, which limited the damage and kept the defending champions in the game. Brandon Hegel, who has been hit and had a question mark to play, was beaten to a loose puck by Landeskog, an involuntary goal for reigning playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevsky, sneaking the opening shot under his left arm. Gave.

In another example of making the Lightning the best team in the NHL in the last three years, he turned the tide in the second period with a 48-second goal from Ondrej Palt and Mikhail Sergachev. This set the stage for several spectacular finishes in a series between evenly matched opponents.

The arena was rocked by the start of the warmup for the first Stanley Cup final game in town in 2001 – the previous year the Avalanche had also won the Stanley Cup, with Sack serving as captain. Fans chanted, “We need the cup!” Throughout the leadup and sometimes during the game, that was a performance of high-scoring hockey that has been standard throughout the season.

Tampa Bay’s top goalscorer of the last two title runs was back, with center Breyden Pointe returning to play his first game after injuring his right leg a month earlier.

Colorado still holds a series lead, despite playing without Nazem Qadri (right-hand thumb) and Andrew Cogliano (right-hander), who were injured in the previous series’ sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference Finals.

The Avalanche swept Nashville in the first round as well, and sent rival St. Louis to six before knocking out Conor McDavid and the Oilers. In any case, Game 1 against Lightning showed that this series will not be easy for either team.

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Follow Associated Press Hockey writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter https://twitter.com/SHowno

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More Associated Press NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

World Nation News Desk
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