Tampa Bay- The sky was as blue as it was at lunchtime, and it began to turn gray during the afternoon. At around 6pm, two hours before the third game of the Grand Final, the sky was no longer gray: it was black. He was threatening.
The great lightning that stabbed the ground every ten seconds, the roar of thunder and the strong wind that swept through the city, there was nothing to reassure the tourist coming from the north.
A few thousand boreholes had already been installed in the plaza in front of the Amalie Arena, where tiered Lightning fans cast an almost indifferent look at the sky despite the fact that a violent storm seemed imminent. They jealously guarded their position in front of a large wall that had turned into a screen on which the match would soon be shown.
Even the police officers who let me into the park smiled sarcastically when I asked if they weren’t afraid of having to deal with a sudden mass movement that was hard to contain once the rain started.
“They are more afraid of losing the lightning tonight again,” one customer told me.
Although they did get wet, Lightning fans avoided the worst. Like their favorites who finally found a way to beat the Colorado Avalanche.
Lightning took an easy 6-2 win. A gain that gives a glimmer of hope to those who believe Lightning can still win the Stanley Cup for the third time in a row even if they lose their first two games in Denver.
It won’t be easy. It would be tough considering that never before in NHL history has a club won the best consecutive streak of 7 after losing their first two games each.
But in order to give yourself the opportunity to achieve this feat, you first have to win. And win as soon as possible.
“We said we had to go back and we did. We didn’t really have a choice. Because even though this match wasn’t decisive, the win was decisive,” Stephen Stamkos agreed after his team’s victory.
Kucherov joins Gretsky, Posey and Trottier
Adjust the captain lightning tone. In fact, he played very well. He scored in the middle of the first half to restore his team’s lead with two goals (4-2). pass added. He had five of six shots on target for an avalanche. hit twice. He blocked two bullets. He also won 23 of the 31 matches he played. All this in 28 attendances for a total of 21 minutes and 33 seconds of use time.
Only Victor Hedmann spent more time (24 min 13sec) than Stamkos on the ice.
If Stamkos sets the tone, his teammates follow suit. Starting with Nikita Kucherov who, with two assists, inflated his offensive balance to 26 points (7 goals) in the 20 matches he played since the start of the qualifiers.
Thus Kucherov joins Wayne Gretzky (from 1983 to 1985), Mike Posey (1981 to 1983) and Brian Trotier (1980 to 1982) who were, as of Monday, the only three players in history to have accumulated at least 25 points in the series three times Consecutive. Years.
Downside, Kucherov took a strong cross check from Devon Toews who hit him in the left hip. Looks like he was hit again in that streak. A serious injury would be detrimental to Lightning, especially since Brayden Point, after playing the first two games of the final, was lost on Monday night.
John Cooper noted that it was too early to provide a medical report in Kocherov’s case. But the head coach admitted he doesn’t appreciate Toews’ gesture.
“You ask me the question and you already know what I’m going to answer. I’ll just say that hockey is a contact sport. A tough sport. Players know exactly what they’re doing,” said Lightning’s coach.
The match was attended by NHL Disciplinary Director George Barros. It will be interesting to see if the Player Safety Office will crack down in any way against Toews who received a minor playing penalty.
The contribution of the four triads
The six goals scored in Lightning’s first win came from the four streaks:
Bales and Stamkos within the first;
Anthony Cirelli II who, in addition to recording, did a lot of work at the expense of the Great Avalanche Line;
Midfielder Nick Paul scored the winning goal in the first game after a quick trip to the clinic after a Josh Manson shot was fired.
Not to mention the veteran support players, Corey Perry and Pat Maron sealed the result of a match that actually won the fifth and sixth goals in favor of Lightning.
“You don’t go to the Stanley Cup Finals by relying on a few players. It takes everyone’s contribution and we got it tonight. You watch a guy like Paul score when he comes back from sick area and lift the rest of the team,” John Cooper commented after the game.
It is true that lightning played well.
But when we analyze this third game, we can safely say that Avalanche and Lightning reversed the roles they played in the second game, which Avalanche won 7-0.
Monday night in Tampa, Lightning played like an avalanche on Saturday. Although he allowed the first goal, he regained control of the match and then never lost it.
Conversely, avalanche played a bad game on Monday as did Lightning on Saturday.
“The effort was there, but we did poorly. I didn’t like the quality of our execution tonight. There were a lot of bad readings. We made a lot of turnovers, which is what Avalanche coach Jared Bednar pushed through after the loss.
Bednar even had to remember his goalkeeper Darcy Comber, who allowed five goals in the 22 shots he faced.
“Like the rest of the team, he didn’t have a good game,” Bednar replied when asked why he was replaced by Vail Francos, who allowed him with one goal from 10 shots, to face off after entering the game late in the second half.
Cal Makari made two at a loss. He fired 10 rounds, half of which hit the target. It will inflate his personal stats, but it won’t hide the fact that the star defender had a tough match. Just like his partner Devon Toews. Both goalkeepers finished the match with a difference of minus -3.
The importance of the first goal
Avalanche scored the first goal for the third consecutive game in the final.
In fact, the ‘Avs’ scored the opening goal twice as the first goal of the match, a goal by Valeri Nichushkin that made Andrei Vasilevskiy look bad early in the match, and was dismissed after a video replay confirmed the presence of an undisclosed offside in the match. Blue line lightning.
We will return to this argument later.
After that, Gabriel Landeskog, jumping on a puck that Vasilevskiy knocked down with a shot from Mikko Rantanen during a big attack, already gave the “Avs” a 1-0 lead.
However, Lightning’s first goal was the turning point in the game according to John Cooper.
“They scored the first goal, but we were in it. We started the game tonight much better than last Saturday. But with a 0-1 drop, the next goal had to be scored. We did it. And when that happened, we felt comfortable on the bench. The guys said, ‘Okay! We just scored, and the others will follow.’ Cooper commented, and that’s exactly what happened.
“In the second match we were going to extend this match for three weeks and not score until we were in the match. Tonight we went back to our style. We made life difficult for them. We were assertive in the way we defended. Our opponents make up a very strong team. They extend it a mile. So you didn’t have to give an inch. That’s what we did,” the Lightning coach added.
John Cooper’s players weren’t perfect. Away from this. But when they opened the door to dash into their nets, Andrei Vasilevsky parried heavily to prevent the avalanche from gaining momentum.
Controversy: Cuper wants to win the league
The match was stopped for long minutes in the first half to analyze a challenge from Lightning for an undisclosed offside goal scored by Valeri Nichushkin.
If the analysis was too long, John Cooper also took a lot of time to indicate his intentions. Moreover, the players all gathered in the midst of the ice to resume the event when the Lightning coach finally called for a review of the game.
“I found it too long,” to which Jared Bednar simply commented without further detail.
There is no statutory time limit for appeal, but John Cooper has stretched the scope of rubber plausibility as far as possible. why? Because there was a lack of information.
“Our guys in the video room were looking at every angle they had, but it wasn’t decisive. At one point, they said to me: ‘We see white, but it could also be the grain of the screen because recovery comes from afar. Then I decided after that to bet on white,'” As John Cooper pointed out.
And he was right, because he won.
But Lightning’s head coach doesn’t understand why the decision to challenge after a missed offside was left up to him and his 32 peers.
“It seems to me that the league should manage this kind of contention themselves. It’s white or black. The NHL officials have every angle available. So it would be natural for him to make sure that the goal is good or not in all his tight offsides. Goalkeepers, I understand it varies a lot from case to case. So it’s normal for coaches to assume their decision to compete or not. But as for offsides, I don’t understand whether it’s up to me to decide whether to compete or not,”
The two clubs meet again on Wednesday at the Amalie Arena. Lightning will be able to iron out the odds while Avalanche will attempt to present themselves, with gains, the possibility of winning the Stanley Cup in front of their home fans on Friday.
Until then, both teams will rest on Tuesday and in the evening the NHL will hold the Individual Honors Ceremony in Tampa, while the Hart, Calder, Norris, Vesina, and Ted Lindsay awards will be distributed to the player most beneficial to his team, to Rookie of the Year, to Defender of the Year, to Goalkeeper of the Year as well as Most Valuable Player of the Season as determined by all players in the ring.
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