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Avs drop Game 5, head back to Tampa

Jesse Montano Avatar
June 25, 2022

The Stanley Cup was in the building tonight, and the crowd wanted to see it. Unfortunately for the fans, and more so the Colorado Avalanche, the greatest trophy in sports never emerged from its case. 

It was a really hard-fought game from the first puck drop. The Tampa Bay Lightning were fighting for their lives, and the Colorado Avalanche were looking to close out the two-time champs, but they’re the two-time champs for a reason. 

After what looked to be a soul-crushing loss in Game 4, I wasn’t sure how the Lightning would respond tonight, but I knew it would all ride on the first period. If the Lighting could get out in front, they could maybe be able to hold on and just play defense, and that’s exactly what they did. 

I’ll be honest, I thought the Avs looked… not necessarily “nervous”, but you could tell they were working through some nervous energy for the first 10-15 minutes of the game. They were running around a lot, and they just weren’t sharp. It caused them to take two penalties within the first 10 minutes, but they were able to kill those off. 

You kept waiting for the momentum swing, the boost the Avs would get from killing consecutive penalties and start tilting the ice the other way. 

It just never really happened. Credit to Tampa, they stayed true to their game plan. 

Just when it looked like Colorado was starting to settle in, Jan Rutta came in to the zone on the right-side wall and just hammered one by Darcy Kuemper. 

Look, it was a bomb of a shot no question, but when a puck hits the middle bar of the net that usually means its a goal that shouldn’t have gone in. Kuemper knew it right away, and that one definitely sucked some life out of the building. 

That goal would be the lone highlight of the first period, despite both teams getting a few good looks here and there. Given the fact that it wasn’t a great start for the Avs, that wasn’t the worst result you could have. 

The second period started and the Avalanche definitely looked more comfortable, but still just weren’t really able to get things going the way they wanted to. 

Despite that, just over five minutes into the period, Val Nichushkin was going hard to the net and struck pay-dirt. 

Makar put a puck on net that leaked through Vasilevsky and sat in the crease, all it needed was a tap in from Nichushkin. The Avs were off and running, and building came alive, and it really seemed to wake the Avs up. Lots of energy and they really started pushing the pace. 

Right when it looked like things were going to start going their way a pair of calls that, I’ll be honest… I didn’t like, changed everything. 

I am not one to complain about the officials, they’re a part of the game and you have to battle through it sometimes, but I thought both of these penalties were really ticky-tack and not the kind of thing either team should be called for in a game of this magnitude. 

The Avs had full control of the zone and drew a penalty. They continued to work the puck around on the delayed call. JT Compher was racing to a loose puck, and the stick of the Tampa player got caught up in Compher’s equipment as he was trying to bring it around to touch the puck.

Compher threw his hands up in an attempt to show that he wasn’t committing an infraction. In the eyes of the refs though, the damage was done and it was going to be 4-on-4 instead of a Colorado power play. 

Just seconds later, in the Colorado zone, Cale Makar and Ondrej Palat began to race towards a loose puck, and in the process of turning around, Makar’s stick got tangled up with Palat, and the Lightning forward went down. 

Arm up, Cale to the box. Now a 4-on-3 advantage for the Lightning, maybe the most lethal kind of man-advantage. 

Sure enough, after about 90 seconds of consecutive puck movement and shot attempts, Nikita Kucherov was able to get a one-timer through from the point. A goal that really seemed to sting. 

Credit to the Avalanche, they didn’t pout or feel sorry for themselves, they just went back to work to try and tie the game up. 

While they couldn’t get things evened up in the second, the Avs came out at the start of the third and really put the pressure on. 

It didn’t take long, less than three minutes into the third period Makar made a couple of nice moves to get into a shooting lane before throwing it on net. It bounced around and hit a couple bodies in front before finding its way into the back of the net.

We were all even again.

Man oh man was it a hard-fought third period after that. Neither team giving an inch, and some big-time hits and physical play. Similarly to Game 4, the officials swallowed the whistles. 

Back and forth, back and forth, time dwindling down. We started to get into “next goal wins” territory.

Well, the ended up being the case, and it was Tampa Bay who got the next goal. 

After establishing the zone, and making a few snappy passes, they got Colorado running around. In all the chaos, Palat somehow drifted away from coverage and was all alone, wide open in front of the net. 

Kuemper was able to get a piece, a big piece, of the shot, but it snuck through. 

The Avs made a push, but not really much that was ultra-threatening. Then with 2:38 left, Jon Cooper got his too many men penalty as the Avs got flagged for having six skaters on the ice. Suddenly what should have been a late-game push, was a penalty kill. 

I thought maybe the Lightning had gotten too cute, trying to just eat the clock while on the man-advantage, instead of going for the insurance goal. Once the Avs killed it off, they actually got a look or two, but none would go. 

It was a disappointing loss, absolutely, but not necessarily all that unexpected. Gabe Landeskog talked after the game and reiterated what we’ve heard so many times over the last two months, it’s not ever going to be easy. Just when you think it is, you get punched in the mouth. 

Now the series heads back to Tampa Bay, with the Lighting getting some new life. Colorado will have to bring their best game of the year, because you know their opponents will.


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