DENVER — The Stanley Cup was in the building just waiting to be carried across the ice.
Pack it up. He returns to Florida.
The resilient Tampa Bay Lightning ruined Colorado’s party to continue the hunt for a third straight Stanley Cup title with a 3-2 win over the Avalanche on Friday night in Game 5.
Ondřej Palat scored with 6:22 left and Andriy Vasilevskiy saved 35 shots in front of a rowdy crowd looking to celebrate the Avalanche’s first league title in 21 years.
“That’s what good teams do, you find a way,” Lightning forward Corey Perry said. “Keep connecting. It’s fun. That’s the essence of hockey: different guys come on the field at different times.”
Game 6 will take place Sunday night in Tampa. The Lightning trailed the best of the seven series 3-2.
“Look, this is a huge challenge for us,” Lightning forward Pat Maroon said. “An exciting challenge too. You must be excited about this challenge and accept it.”
The goblet shone and was ready for this moment – almost beckoning Avalanche from the side. Avalanche is back in business, where so far they are 8-1 in the playoffs.
“In our room, we believe we can win every game we go out and play,” defenseman Devon Toews said. “We feel like we had a decent game tonight, a pretty good game. Obviously, that wasn’t enough today.”
Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Jan Rutta also scored for Molniya. Valery Nichushkin and Cale Makar scored goals for Colorado. Makar’s score in the third period bounced off Eric Chernak’s skate and went through Vasilevskiy’s pads to tie the score at 2.
This set the stage for Palath, whose throw slipped through the pads of Darcy Kemper. It was Palat’s 16th career playoff goal, second only to Braden Point (18) in franchise history.
“I thought I played well, but I slipped,” Kemper said. “He just found a little hole.
Tampa Bay regrouped after an emotional loss in Game 4 at home to an overtime goal by Colorado forward Nazem Kadri. The Lightning felt that the Avalanche may have had too many players on the ice for a winner.
A similar “too many players on the ice” scenario unfolded on Friday – and this time it was called. With 2:43 left, the Lightning went on the powerplay and made it so Colorado couldn’t get Kemper out until the last moments. They weathered Avalanche’s final squall.
It’s just that the Lightning demonstrate their champion character. They had already won back a 3-2 lead over Toronto in the first round and climbed out of the hole 2-0 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Completing this series of comebacks will put them in a completely different category. Only one team rallied to win Game 7 in the Finals after losing the series 3-1 to the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.
This is a tough Lightning squad that shows no signs of slowing down against the fast Avalanche team even after all the competition they’ve been in. Tampa Bay has played in 67 postseason games since the start of the first round in 2020, almost the entire extra season.
Their determination impressed Lightning coach John Cooper. His team improved to 3-0 this season when faced with potential knockout games.
“The mental toughness needed to play in the environment they just played in is the reason these guys have a pair of rings on their fingers,” Cooper said.
The Avalanche are trying to win their first title since 2001. The Avalanche fans were in full force, both inside the building (a ticket to a higher level on the day of the game cost about $ 1,500), and outside at the next party.
“It shouldn’t be easy and it won’t be easy,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. “We knew we were getting into it. We knew it would happen tonight. … Short memory in the playoffs and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Avalanche – 2 on 2 away to the Stanley Cup Final. They also won in 1996, which was their first season in Denver since moving from Quebec.
Shortly after Nichushkin equalized at 1 in the second, Kucherov scored a goal from the post. The purpose of the power play was with Alex Killorn in the box for holding, along with JT Comper (holding the stick) and Makar (stumbling), creating a 4 on 3 situation.
Bednar was not happy about Makar’s call.
“There was no intention here. I don’t even think he tested that guy,” Bednar said. “Look at me like he tripped over a stick. It’s hard”.
Kemper finished with 26 saves.
“He was fine,” Bednar said. “Of course I’d like him to get first.”
The first was Rutta’s result less than five minutes into the game, which knocked some of the energy out of the crowd. It was his first goal in this playoff.
“We were here. We were losing 3-1? No, Cooper said. “But we’ve been in situations where we know the feeling of a knockout game.”