The Tampa Bay Lightning are back in the series, as they defeated the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Here are three things that we learned from the game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning returned home for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after suffering two brutal losses to the Colorado Avalanche. From losing 4-3 in overtime in Game 1, to getting blown out 7-0 in the following contest, the Lightning needed to pick up a victory to avoid a 3-0 deficit.
Tampa Bay did just that, as they defeated the Avalanche in dominant fashion to cut the series deficit to 2-1. Not only that, but this is Colorado’s first road loss in their playoff run.
Here are three things that we learned from Game 3.
3. Tampa’s video challenge in first period loomed large
The Avalanche scored the first goal in the previous two games of the Final. It looked like it was going to be three in a row early on in the first period, as Valeri Nichushkin put the puck past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to give Colorado an early 1-0 lead. But just before puck drop, the Lightning bench got the linesman’s attention to challenge the goal.
Tampa Bay argued that Colorado defenseman Bowen Byram, who set up the goal, was offsides. Sure enough, the video replay looked like Byram was unable to keep the puck in the zone.
Replay officials in Toronto agreed with the sentiment, and disallowed the goal. From there, it felt like the momentum was taken out of Colorado’s hands, even though they did score a goal shortly afterwards.
2. Avalanche have goaltending concerns
Through the first two games of the Final, Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper played great in the net. From holding his own in Game 1, to stopping all 16 shots faced in Game 2, Colorado looked like they were in good shape for the remainder of the Final.
But in Game 3, Kuemper was pulled midway through the second period after surrendering his fifth goal of the game. He stopped just 17-of-22 shots faced, which caused head coach Jared Bednar to replace him for the remainder of the contest with Pavel Francouz.
The Avalanche will have a choice to make when it comes to the starting goaltender for Game 4. Do they go back to Kuemper? Or do they give Francouz a shot to start the game? That will be something to keep an eye on as we get closer to Wednesday.
1. Never count out the Lightning
The Lightning are back-to-back Stanley Cup champions for a reason. They know what it takes to win it all. This run showed just how resilient they are.
Tampa Bay overcame a 3-2 deficit in the first round to the Toronto Maple Leafs to take the series in seven games. Then in the Eastern Conference Finals, they lost the first two games to the New York Rangers on the road. But once they returned home for Game 3 of that series, the momentum shifted in Tampa Bay’s favor.
It feels like we are experiencing deja vu in this series.
After Anthony Cirelli scored in the first to tie the game at 1-1, the Lightning took control of the game with two unanswered goals by Ondrej Palat and Nick Paul. Gabriel Landeskog scored his second goal of the contest to cut Colorado’s deficit to 3-2. But, goals by Steven Stamkos and Pat Maroon forced Kuemper from the game. Corey Perry scored shortly afterwards to make it 6-2 late in the second period.
The Lightning want to be the first team to three-peat as Stanley Cup Champions. Now, lets see if they can carry this momentum into Game 4.