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JUNE 26, 2022 G A PTS
NATHAN MACKINNON
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VICTOR HEDMAN
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NAZEM KADRI
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BACK-TO-BACK CHAMPS RESPOND WITH DOMINATING GAME 3 VICTORY

JUN 20, 2022  (23H58)      JON
The Lightning desperately needed a victory in this one, having lost Games 1 & 2 in Colorado. Their response in Game 3 was somewhat predictable following the Game 2 7-0 blowout loss; the reigning two-time champs' resilience is legend at this point. However, the start of Game 3 was the exact opposite of what the Lightning wanted to see. Valeri Nichushkin scored what would have been the game-opener if not for a supremely tight coaches' challenge for offsides:


The Avalanche, in typical fashion, scored minutes later when Gabriel Landeskog scored a dirty one. The Lightning possibly could have issued a challenge, but ultimately opted against it:


Not long after Anthony Cirelli scored off the rush to tie the game at one goal a side. It slid under the legs of Kuemper when Cirelli mishandled the puck, one Colorado's netminder might want back. Nevertheless, he can't have it back. Shortly after Cirelli's tally, Steven Stamkos & Ondrej Palat pulled a beauty out of their bag to take the lead. Might want to watch this twice:


Mikko Rantanen was caught puck watching here, leaving Palat's route to the slot uncontested. In a pivotal Game 3, the Lightning's Stanley Cup Final experience seemed to elevate them over the Avalanche's lack thereof. It wouldn't take long for Nick Paul to extend the Lightning's lead over the Avs with a slick pass from Ross Colton while Corey Perry provided the screen in front. The Lightning were in the driver's seat & with Andrei Vasilevskiy doing things like this:


...their leads are seldom in danger. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog would bring the lead down to one on a powerplay goal where he ripped cheese on Andrei Vasilevskiy. One where no matter who is in net, it was destined for the twine. That is the closest the Avalanche would ever get, though. 'Champa Bay' knows how to close out opponents; Steven Stamkos went one-for-one with Landeskog when he buried one from the slot, and from there the Lightning never looked back. Boot, meet neck. The Lightning would chase Darcy Kuemper midway through the final frame & cruise to victory.

A massive response from the Lightning, displaying the mettle & guile of a championship team. Similarly to their series against the Rangers, they let Games 1 & 2 slip, then appeared to completely settle into the series. Anyone projecting an easy win for the Avalanche after their dominating start to the series is in for a rude awakening. By a final score of 6-2, the Lightning cut the series deficit to one. Colorado takes a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 in Tampa Bay Wednesday night.
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