Stanley Cup – The Flash and the Avalanche have switched roles

TAMPA BAY- As blue as it was at noon, the sky began to turn gray as the afternoon wore on. At around 6 p.m., two hours before the third game of the grand final, the sky was no longer gray but black. He was menacing.

The great lightning that struck the ground every ten seconds, the rumble of thunder and the strong gusts that swept over the city could not calm a tourist coming from the north.

Already a few thousand well positioned on the esplanade in front of the Amalie Arena, the fans wrapped in the colors of lightning look almost indifferently at the sky, although a violent storm seemed to be imminent. They jealously defended their position in front of the big wall, which turned into a screen on which the game would soon be shown.

The cops who gave me access to the esplanade even smiled sardonically when I asked if they weren’t afraid to deal with a sudden crowd that was difficult to manage when it started to rain.

“They’re more afraid of the Lightning losing again tonight,” one of the agents told me.

Despite getting wet, Lightning fans avoided the worst. Like their favorites who finally found a way to defeat the Colorado Avalanche.

The Lightning clinched an easy 6-2 win. A win that gives a glimmer of hope to those who believe Lightning is still capable of winning a third straight Stanley Cup even after losing their first two games in Denver.

It will not be easy. It gets difficult when you consider that never before in NHL history has a club won a back-to-back best-of-7 series after losing the first two games in each.

But in order to give yourself a chance to accomplish this feat, you had to win first. And win as soon as possible.

“We said we need to recover and we did. We didn’t really have a choice. Because although this game wasn’t decisive, the victory was decisive,” said Steven Stamkos after his team’s victory.

Kucherov joins Gretzky, Bossy and Trottier

The Lightning Captain set the tone. In fact, he played very well. He scored midway through the middle to restore his team’s two-goal lead (4-2). He added a pass. He had five of six shots on target for the Avalanche. He scored twice. He blocked two shots. He also won 23 of the 31 faceoffs he played. All this in 28 attendances with a total of 21 min 33 s usage time.

Only Victor Hedman spent more time (24min 13s) than Stamkos on the ice.

When Stamkos set the tone, his teammates followed suit. Starting with Nikita Kucherov, who with two assists increased his offensive record to 26 points (7 goals) in 20 games since the start of the playoffs.

Kucherov joins Wayne Gretzky (1983-1985), Mike Bossy (1981-1983) and Bryan Trottier (1980-1982) who, as of Monday, were the only three players in history to have played in the third straight series at least Have accumulated 25 points years.

On the downside, Kucherov received a solid countercheck from Devon Toews, who hit him in the left hip. He appeared to injure himself again on this streak. A serious injury would benefit the Lightning, especially as Brayden Point retired after the first two games of Monday night’s final.

Jon Cooper pointed out that in Kucherov’s case it was too early to issue a medical report. But the head coach admitted he didn’t appreciate Toew’s gesture.

“You ask me the question and you already know what I will answer. I’m just saying hockey is a contact sport. A tough sport. But the players know exactly what they’re doing,” said the Lightning coach.

NHL Disciplinary Prefect George Parros was present at the game. It will be interesting to see if the Player Safety Office will take any action against Toews, who has received a minor game penalty.

Contribution of the four trios

The six goals scored in the Lightning’s first win came from all four lines:

Palat and Stamkos in the first;

Second row Anthony Cirelli, who not only scored but also put in a lot of work at the expense of the Avalanche’s big line;

Third row center Nick Paul scored the deciding goal on the first shift after a brief trip to the clinic after being hit by Josh Manson.

Not to mention veteran supports Corey Perry and Pat Maroon, who sealed the outcome of an already won game by scoring fifth and sixth goals for the Lightning.

“You’re not going to the Stanley Cup Finals if you’re just relying on a few players. It needs everyone’s contribution and tonight we did it. You see a guy like Paul score a goal when he comes back from the infirmary and that lifts the rest of the team,” commented John Cooper after the game.

It’s true that the Lightning played well.

But if we analyze this third game, we can safely say that the Avalanche and the Lightning switched roles in the second game, which the Avalanche won 7-0.

The Lightning played Monday night in Tampa like the Avalanche played Saturday. He conceded the first goal, but then regained control of the game and never lost it.

Conversely, the Avalanche played just as bad a game on Monday as the Lightning did on Saturday.

“The effort was there, but we did a bad job. I didn’t like the quality of our execution tonight. There were far too many bad readings. We conceded far too many turnovers, which Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar pleaded after the loss.

Bednar even had to recall his goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper, who allowed five goals on 22 shots.

“Like the rest of the team, he didn’t have a good game,” Bednar replied when asked why he replaced Kuemper with Pavel Francouz, who allowed one goal with 10 shots and came on late in the second against.

Cale Makar had two assists in the loss. He also fired 10 shots, half of which hit the target. It will inflate his personal stats, but it won’t hide the fact that the star defender had a tough game. Just like his partner Devon Toews. Both guards ended the game with minus 3 differences.

The importance of the first goal

The Avalanche scored the first goal for their third straight game in the finals.

In fact, the “Avs” scored the opening goal twice, as the game’s first-ever goal, a goal by Valeri Nichushkin that made Andrei Vasilevskiy look bad early in the game, was disallowed after video footage confirmed an unreported offside by Flash Blue Line.

We will come back to this argument later.

Then Gabriel Landeskog, who jumped in a massive attack on a puck dropped by Vasilevskiy on a shot from Mikko Rantanen, actually gave the “Avs” a 1-0 lead.

However, according to John Cooper, it was the Lightning’s first goal that marked the game’s turning point.

“They scored the first goal, but we were there. We started the game much better tonight than last Saturday. But with a 0:1 deficit, the next goal had to come. We made it. And when it happened, we felt relieved on the bench. As if the boys said: OK! We just met, others will follow. And that’s exactly what happened,” Cooper commented.

“In the second game we would have extended that game by three weeks and we wouldn’t have scored until we were in the game. Tonight we went back to our style. We made life difficult for them. We were perceptive in the way we defended. Our opponents form a very powerful team. If you give them an inch, they’ll stretch it a mile. So they didn’t have to give an inch. And we did,” added the Lightning coach.

Jon Cooper’s players weren’t perfect. Far from there. But as they opened the door to push toward their net, Andrei Vasilevskiy made big saves to prevent the Avalanche from gaining momentum.

Dispute: Cooper wants the league to win

The game was suspended for long minutes in the first half to analyze a Lightning challenge for an unsignaled offside on a Valeri Nichushkin goal.

If the analysis was very long, Jon Cooper also took a lot of time to signal his intentions. Furthermore, all players were gathered in the middle of the ice to continue the action when the Lightning coach finally called for a game review.

“I thought it was very long,” which Jared Bednar simply commented without further elaboration.

There is no statutory time limit for contesting, but Jon Cooper has stretched the rubber band of reasonableness as far as possible. Why? Because there was a lack of information.

“Our guys in the video room looked at every angle they had but it wasn’t conclusive. At one point they said to me: We’re seeing white, but it could also be the grain of the screen as the recreation comes from afar. I then decided to bet on white,” as Jon Cooper pointed out.

And he was right, because he won.

But the Lightning head coach doesn’t understand why the decision to challenge after a missed offside rests with him and his 32 teammates.

“It seems to me that the league should settle these kinds of disputes itself. It’s white or it’s black. NHL officials have every angle available. It would therefore be normal for him to look at whether the goal is good or not in all close offside situations. As for goalkeeper disabilities, I understand that it varies a lot from case to case. It is therefore normal for coaches to assume whether or not to appeal. But when it comes to offside, I don’t understand if it’s up to me to decide whether to compete or not,” concluded the Lightning head coach.

The two clubs meet again on Wednesday at the Amalie Arena. The Lightning will be able to even the odds while the Avalanche will look to earn a chance to win the Stanley Cup in front of their fans on Friday.

Until then, the two teams are resting on Tuesday, and tonight the NHL will hold their individual honors ceremony in Tampa while handing out the Hart, Calder, Norris, Vézina and Ted Lindsay trophies to the player useful to his team , Rookie of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Goaltender of the Year as well as Most Valuable Player of the Season as determined by all players on the circuit.

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