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In ecstasy, Avalanche players proudly posed with the coveted Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay yesterday.
Since then, the Lightning had resisted every time it had its back against the wall. Led by Andrei Vasilevskiy, his 1.33 GAA and .956 save percentage, the Floridians were perfect on four occasions.
Like all good things come to an end, this brilliant series came to an end last night in the Amalie Arena. Nathan MacKinnon, limited to just one goal (and three assists) in five games, led in the 2-1 win.
A victory that allowed the Avalanche to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in its history, a first since 2001.
The reign of the Lightning, champions of 2020 and 2021, ended after 20 months and 29 days.
The best since the Oilers
The Halifax forward initially leveled the game by registering his 13th of the current series. He was then involved in the goal for Arturri Lehkonen, the man of great chances, as his four winners prove. The Finn’s eighth straight goal allowed the Avalanche to take the lead in a game for the first time since 211-27.
With Colorado winning Game 4 in overtime after being behind the entire game, we had to go back to the first third of Game 3 to see the Avalanche ahead.
The Lightning made a valiant effort to bring about a seventh and final game, the visitors resisted. It has to be said that some Lightning players seemed at the end of their tether as their journey was much more tortuous than their rivals’.
The Avalanche were crowned champions after 20 games (16-4).
Since 1987, when the four-rounder was a best-of-seven for the first time, only one team has suffered fewer than four losses in its run: the 1988 Edmonton Oilers (16-2).
“What I’m feeling right now is unreal,” said avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. Thinking of my family and especially our child who will always see his father as the Stanley Cup champion,” he added tearfully.
Makar, the most useful
Unsurprisingly, Cale Makar, who some are already comparing to Bobby Orr, won the Conn-Smythe Trophy. The 23-year-old defenseman hasn’t stolen his title as playoff MVP.
Despite a slightly more erratic line-up in the last two games, the Albertan confidently led the Avalanche game throughout the tournament.
He had at least a point in 18 of his team’s 20 playoff games.
During that run, he had five multi-point games, including three in the finals. Al MacInnis (10 in 1989), Brian Leetch (9 in 1994) and Paul Coffey (9 in 1995) are the only ones who knew more.
The 29 points (8 goals, 21 assists) he has accumulated in that series put him fourth again in defending history behind Coffey (37 points), Leetch (34 points) and MacInnis (31 points). Of this quartet, only Coffey was not awarded the Conn Smythe.