By Fred Goodall, sports writer for the Associated Press
TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Stephen Stamkos, Pat Maron and Ondrej Palatin scored a goal and assist, the Tampa Bay Lightning scored four times in the second half and beat the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Anthony Cirelli, Nicholas Poole and Corey Perry also scored to help two-time champion Lightning recover after playing poorly while losing their first two games on the road. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman had assists, and Andrei Vasilievsky stopped 37 shots.
Stamkos, Paul, Maroon and Perry scored in the second half when Lightning chased down Colorado goalkeeper Darcy Comber as he retired to reduce their series deficit to 2-1.
Gabriel Landskog scored twice and Mikko Rantanen provided assists in the avalanche. Comber conceded five goals on 22 shots before he was replaced by Pavel Francoz, who finished 9 saves.
Game four takes place Wednesday night at the Amalie Arena, where the Lightning team won an eight-game franchise record and lost Colorado on the road for the first time this season.
Two nights after limiting it to just 16 shots in the 7-0 loss in Denver, Lightning bounced back by finding a way to neutralize Colorado’s speed and Kuemper resolved to avoid being on the brink of elimination.
The Defensive Champions became the first team since 1919 to win a Stanley Cup Final after losing seven plus goals in the previous game.
The avalanche lifted Kuemper after Maroon scored an easy goal that put Lightning up 5-2 with 8:45 per second remaining. Perry came behind Francoz to score a rebound that came from the right post to make it 6-2 with 5:02 left on the left in the period.
The back-to-back champion overcame a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference final to defeat the New York Rangers in six games. They’re looking to do it again against Colorado to complete their quest for their first three-peat in the NHL in nearly 40 years.
Cirelli and Palat scored in the opening period for Lightning, who played much more aggressively than they had in games 1 and 2, when they appeared to be a step or two slower than the fast, high-score collapse.
The seven-goal loss in Game Two has raised the question of whether a team that has played 68 games after the season – mostly by one team over three playoff games – since 2020, is running out of gas as it tries to become the first franchise to win at least three Back-to-back Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four consecutive titles from 1980 to 1983.
And while coach John Cooper cut the number of hockey losses on his players, it was clear that Colorado looked like the most active team in games 1 and 2 after losing 12-2 against Nashville, St. Louis and Edmonton. Three rounds.
Driven by a losing crowd of over 19,000, and playing with a sense of urgency absent in most of the first two games, Lightning scored twice in a period of 1:51 to wipe out a 1-0 lead in the avalanche. The first two goals in the Landeskog force game.
Shirelli crossed Comber to become 1-1 at 13:03 of the opening period. Balat scored his 10th goal in the playoffs from a pass from Stamkos to give Tampa Bay the lead for the first time in the series.
And Andrei Vasilevsky missed the second goal in the power play for Landeskog, who came from two goals down to 3-2 before Tampa Bay withdrew for good.
Vasilevskiy held 37 shots out of 39 after that
After allowing the most goals he conceded in qualifying in the second game, Vasilevsky saved 13 times in the first half, 12 in the second and 12 in the third.
Lightning became the third team in NHL history to score six goals in a Stanley Cup Final, having scored at least seven in the previous game.
Both teams played without one of the best strikers.
Lightning center Brayden Point, who missed 10 games after being injured during Tampa Bay’s back-to-back win over Toronto in the first round, was scratched after playing games 1 and 2 in Denver.
Avalanche attackers Andrei Burakowski and Nazim Kadri sat down to Colorado. Coach Jared Bednar said they both work day in and day out.
Paul scored for the Lightning after sitting out for part of the first half with an apparent right leg injury.
She entered Colorado on Monday night with a post-season winning streak with seven franchises. The avalanche also suffered its first loss on the road, dropping to 8-1. Tampa Bay improved to 8-1 at home this postseason.
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