By STEPHEN WHYNO, AP Hockey Author
DENVER (AP) — Trying like by far the higher crew in opposition to the defending champions, the Colorado Avalanche overwhelmed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Recreation 2 of the Stanley Cup Closing on Saturday to take a 2-0 lead within the best-of-seven sequence.
Valeri Nichushkin scored his seventh and eighth targets of the playoffs and continued to be the most effective participant on the ice within the closing, Recreation 1 extra time hero Andre Burakovsky beat Andrei Vasilevskiy once more and even defensive defenseman Josh Manson and 35-year-old grinder Darren Helm acquired in on the enjoyable with a purpose apiece. Playoff MVP front-runner Cale Makar scored twice within the third interval, inciting chants of “We would like the Cup!” from a fired up crowd.
Hardly ever have the Lightning been fully outclassed throughout this run of postseason success, however additionally they hadn’t confronted an opponent just like the Avalanche, who pressured them into one uncharacteristic mistake after one other. Colorado was dominant in each side of the sport to maneuver two victories away from the franchise’s first title since 2001 and the primary by this core led by Nathan MacKinnon.
The Avalanche go to Tampa for Recreation 3 on Monday evening up within the sequence regardless of no targets within the sequence from MacKinnon. They nonetheless turned simply the third crew in NHL historical past to attain three-plus targets within the first interval of Video games 1 and a pair of within the closing.
The dominant efficiency began by pouncing on an early mistake by usually dependable Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak when he bobbled the puck on the blue line on one of many sport’s first shifts. It was all Avalanche after that.
Their aggressive forecheck led them to attract a penalty on veteran Ryan McDonagh, rating on the following energy play when Burakovsky fed Nichushkin for his first of the evening. It wasn’t his final, and Colorado poured it on with six of the sport’s first seven photographs and full territorial domination with a lot of the sport performed within the Tampa Bay finish.
With Vasilevskiy — whose play was the important thing to the Lightning’s unbelievable potential to bounce again after a loss within the playoffs — wanting shaky and even dropping his head after letting Makar beat him clear on one in all many 2-on-1 rushes, the Avalanche made essentially the most of all their offensive zone time. The best-scoring crew this postseason placed on a clinic in opposition to the crew that has performed extra hockey than anybody else over the previous two years.
That will lastly be taking its toll, and it is exacerbated by the blazing velocity with which the Avalanche play. They once more not solely outskated the Lightning however used fast toes to power errors that became targets.
Tampa Bay fell to 18-2 after a loss for the reason that begin of the primary spherical in 2020. The streak of 18 in a row ended within the Jap Convention closing in opposition to the New York Rangers when the Lightning fell behind 2-0 earlier than roaring again, although it is exhausting to see seasoned Colorado fall into the identical entice.
Even when gamers brush off the idea of momentum from sport to sport throughout a playoff sequence, their romp over the champs mixed with a 7-0 street file ought to fill the Avalanche with confidence. However they may once more must dip into their pool of depth due to accidents.
After getting Andrew Cogliano again from lacking the season opener with a proper finger damage, the Avalanche misplaced Burakovsky once more within the second interval. Burakovsky blocked a shot within the first sport within the West closing and has been enjoying by means of ache since.
Colorado is inflicting loads of ache on Tampa Bay, which resorted to some tough stuff after falling behind. After all, even MacKinnon was throwing hits within the third interval regardless of the sport being out of hand.
Darcy Kuemper was barely examined in internet for Colorado, choosing up the shutout with 17 saves.
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