(Denver) Ondrej Palat gave the Lightning another tag and the Tampa Bay team defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals Friday night.
Posted at 11:16 p.m
One might have thought the two sides were heading for a second straight overtime, but Palat was forgotten in the slot, beating goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper’s vigilance by 6:22 in the final period.
Palat took advantage of the lack of communication between Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin to take a pass from Victor Hedman and score his 11the Goal of the series, including his third win.
The Lightning, two-time Stanley Cup champions, reduced the Avalanche’s lead to 3-2 in the finals and will have a chance to meet their fans for one last time of the season on Sunday night.
Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also moved the ropes for the Lightning, who more or less controversially lost on Wednesday night. Mikhail Sergachev and Corey Perry were both involved in two of their successes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy again did his best to protect his team’s advance. The 2021 Conn-Smythe Trophy winner showed his value by blocking 35 of 37 pucks aimed at him.
Makar and Nichushkin’s mistake spoiled a good performance for their part. Both players ended the game with a goal and an assist each. However, the Avalanche must wait at least two more days before winning their first Stanley Cup since 2001.
Kümper allowed three goals on 29 shots but it was mainly Rutta who hurt when the disc went between his body and left arm.
On a roller coaster
Kuemper and Vasilevskiy traded some great saves in the first period, especially when their respective teams were outnumbered. However, it was the Blitz that managed to open the scoring.
After thwarting an avalanche attack, Sergachev handed the disc to Perry, who spotted Rutta alone on the flank in the neutral zone. Rutta used a lot of space in front of him and unleashed a slapshot in enemy territory that Kümper would certainly have liked to see again.
Despite everything, the home side increased the pressure towards the end of the first third but failed to equalize. Lightning defenses were overwhelmed, but they were able to block shots when traffic was in front of the net. Then, on a partial escape, Nathan MacKinnon slipped the puck between Vasilevskiy’s pads but just wide of the goal. Gabriel Landeskog then stumbled over the Russian goalkeeper’s left shoulder.
The Lightning were very active on the return from the break, but the Colorado team tied the game at 5:07. MacKinnon won a faceoff in offensive territory and Makar fired a flowing shot that Vasilevskiy didn’t seem to take well. Nichushkin completed his action at the net and was able to drive a free shot behind the red line.
However, the visitors regained their one-goal lead with a manpower game just over three minutes later. After defenseman Josh Manson had quite a presence with three shots, Kucherov fired a one-timer from the spot that crawled past Kuemper, whose vision was obscured by Perry.
The Avalanche also had a power play towards the end of the second period, but despite a few chances to score, the result remained the same. Notably, Makar managed a spectacular surge between three Lightning players, but his shot went over the net. Mikko Rantanen could have leveled the game too, but his shot missed the target.
Carried away by the roaring crowd, the Avalanche players didn’t lack for intensity in the opening minutes of the third period, and their efforts paid off. Hopefully Makar’s spot shot was blocked by Vasilevskiy, but he touched the skate of Erik Cernak, who was marking Nichushkin, and the puck found its way between the keeper’s pads.