DENVER ( Associated Press) – Black Capricorn smiled hard after scoring his second goal and Colorado’s seventh of the night. He punched Mikko Rentanen to thank for the pass and skated on the bench.
He and Avalanche are calm, confident, and rolling. They are now two wins from defeating the two-time defending champions.
Looking like the better team ever, the Avalanche beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night to take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series.
Coach Jared Bednar called it “as close to a game as you can get from your players”.
“I think we played to a ‘T’ with our identities tonight,” said Makar. “We had some good goals and stuff. … Tonight was a little weird. Obviously, we are getting opportunities but people have managed to take advantage of that, so that’s a good thing.”
Valery Nichushkin scored his seventh and eighth goals of the playoffs and remained the best player on the ice in the final, Game 1 overtime hero Andrei Burakovsky defeated Andrei Vasilevsky again and even defended defender Josh Manson and 35-year-old Grinder. Darren Helm got into the fun with a goal each. Makar, who didn’t even score a shot on goal in Game 1, scored twice in the third period, “We want the cup!” From the burning crowd.
“They’re playing at an elite level right now – give them credit. We’re not,” said Lightning coach John Cooper. “They’re two good teams. They’re playing at a much higher level than us right now.”
Rarely were Lightning knocked out completely during this run of post-season success, but they didn’t even face an opponent like the Avalanche, which forced them to commit uncanny mistakes after another. Colorado was dominant in every aspect of the game to pull off two wins from their first title since 2001 and the first by this corps under Nathan McKinnon.
The Avalanche moves to Tampa on Monday night for Game 3 despite McKinnon scoring no goals in the series, playing at times like a man who attempts to break though the end and hoist the cup. Happens in They still became the third team in NHL history to score more than three goals in the first period of Games 1 and 2 in the final.
“We played a great game,” Helm said. “We just played a full 60 minutes.”
The dominant performance began with a pounce on an early mistake by generally reliable Lightning defenseman Eric Cernak when he swung the puck over the blue line on one of the first shifts of the game. After that it was all avalanche.
His aggressive forecheck led him to fine veteran Ryan McDonagh, scoring on the ensuing power play when Burakovsky fed Nichushkin for his first night. It was not their last, and Colorado put it on with six of the first seven shots of the game and completed regional dominance with most of the game being played at the end of Tampa Bay.
With Wasilewski – whose game was key to the Lightning’s incredible ability to bounce back after a playoff loss – seemed shaky and even Capricorn tried to clear him on one of several 2-on-1 rushes. After he dropped his head, Avalanche made the most of all his offensive field time. After this season the highest-scoring team entered the clinic against the team that has played more hockey than anyone else in the past two years.
This can eventually take its toll, and it accelerates at the blazing speed with which the avalanche plays. He again not only overpowered the power but also used quick legs to force errors that turned into goals.
“We came out with a purpose,” said forward Andrew Cogliano, who returned after missing Game 1 with a right finger injury. “We got into our game, we skated with the drop of the puck, and we didn’t give up.”
Tampa Bay fell 18-2 after a loss since the start of the first round in 2020. The streak of 18 ended in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers when the Lightning went 2-0 up before roaring back, though it’s hard to see Colorado falling into the same trap.
The way Lightning lost it – their biggest blow loss to date during this race – came as a surprise to almost everyone.
“Am I surprised we lost 7-Zip?” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “I mean, I don’t think we’ve seen it coming.”
Even though the players reject the concept of speed from game to game during the playoff series, their romp on the champions combined with a 7–0 road record should fill the avalanche with confidence. But injuries may require him to dip into his pool of depth again.
The Avalanche lost Burakovsky again in the second period, after Andrew Cogliano got back from missing the season opener with a right finger injury. Burakovsky intercepted a shot in the first game in the West Final and has been playing in pain ever since. Bednar said he would be reevaluated before Game 2.
Colorado is giving a lot of pain on Tampa Bay, having to resort to rough stuff after falling behind. Of course, even though the game was well in hand, McKinnon was still throwing hits in the third round.
Darcy Kumper was tested hard in the net for Colorado, picking up the shutout with 17 saves.
“He was just rock solid,” Manson said. “He was what we should have been.”