We’ve reached the Stanley Cup Finals! An up to seven game series to determine a champion for the year. Coming out of the West is the Colorado Avalanche, who have beaten the Nashville Predators in 4 games, St. Louis Blues in 6 games, and the Edmonton Oilers in 4 games en route to the finals. It’s the first time the Avalanche have played in a Stanley Cup finals since 2001.
While coming out of the East is the two time defending Stanley Cup Champions Tampa Bay Lightning, looking to win their third Cup in a row. Should Tampa prevail, it would be the first time a three peat has occurred since the New York Islanders achieved that feat in the 80s. The Lightning defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in 7 games, the Florida Panthers in 4 games, and the New York Rangers in 6 games en route to the finals.
Here is how the two teams would line up:
In the first period, it would be the home Avalanche who would draw first blood in the series. The goal coming from Gabriel Landeskog, his ninth goal of the playoffs. The assists on the play would come from Mikko Rantanen and Bowen Byram. A rush in the zone by Byram, up the middle, would see a drop pass to Rantanen on the left side. The shot would squeak it’s way through Andre Vasilevskiy and lay in the crease, where Landeskog would get the first stick on the puck and stash it in the net.
Two minutes later, the Avalanche would double their lead in the game. The goal would be tallied by Valeri Nichushkin, his sixth goal of the playoffs. The lone assist on the play would come from Nathan MacKinnon. A turnover at the Lightning defensive blue line would see the puck find MacKinnon’s stick. He hit a slap pass to Nichushkin, who was in the high slot. The shot would come from in-between the circles and beat Vasilevskiy on the glove side.
Three minutes later, the Lightning would get on the board and cut into the Colorado lead. The goal coming from Nicholas Paul, his fourth goal of the playoffs. The assists on the play would come from Victor Hedman and Brayden Point. An area pass by Hedman would find a streaking Paul, who managed to get behind the defense. Paul went to make a move and fumbled the puck, but got enough of a recovery and was able to get something on the puck. The puck would flutter by Darcy Kuemper and in the net.
Before the end of the first period, the Avalanche would restore their two goal lead in the game. The goal coming via the power play from Artturi Lehkonen, his seventh goal of the playoffs. The assists on the play coming from Mikko Rantanen, his second point of the game, and Gabriel Landeskog, also his second point of the game. While on the two man advantage, Landeskog would hit the puck around the back of the net. The puck would find Rantanen’s stick, and he would fire a pass to the right circle which found Lehkonen’s stick. The shot would go blocker side of Vasilevskiy and in the net. The Avalanche would take a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, the Lightning would once again find a way to score and cut into the Colorado lead. The goal would come from Ondrej Palat, his ninth goal of the playoffs. The assists on the play would come from Nikita Kucherov and Ryan McDonagh. Palat would rush the puck up the middle and move to the left side. He would lay a drop pass to Kucherov, who cut to the right side of the offensive zone. Kucherov would make a move and send a backhand pass to Palat, who had beaten his defender on the way to the net. Palat directed the puck past a sliding Kuemper.
48 seconds later, the Lightning would find a way to tie up the game. The goal coming from Mikhail Sergachev, his second goal of the playoffs. The assists on the play would come from Brandon Hagel and Anthony Cirelli. A shot from Cirelli would be blocked by Colorado, and the puck would pop up into the air. Cirelli would find the puck and chip it to the wall, where Hagel would pick up the puck. Twisting and turning, shaking off the Avalanche defender, Hagel would find Sergachev at the point. The shot would come in through a mass of bodies in front, go off both goal posts and past Kuemper. The game would be tied at 3 after two periods.
There would be no scoring in the third period, as both goalies had shut down any offensive chances both teams could generate. The Avalanche would have the advantage in the shot department by a tally of 12-5. Colorado would have a late power play opportunity, as Pat Maroon would take a delay of game penalty with a minute and a half left in the game. The game would head to overtime with Colorado having 36 seconds of power play time left.
In the overtime session, the Avalache would not be able to take advantage of the power play time left. However, Colorado had control through most of the session, finding a goal a minute and a half into the frame. The goal would come from Andre Burakovsky, his second goal of the playoffs, and first career OT playoff winner. The assists on the play coming from Valeri Nichushkin, his second point of the game, and JT Compher. A neutral zone turnover by the Lightning would find Compher skate the puck up the middle. He took a shot that was blocked by the Lightning defender. The puck would then find Nichushkin, who fired the pass across to the right finding Burakovsky’s stick. Andre would one time the puck past a sliding Vasilevskiy and in the net. The Avalanche would take Game 1 by a score of 4-3.
Andrei Vasilevskiy would face 38 Avalanche shots, making 34 saves; while Darcy Kuemper would face 23 Lightning shots, making 20 saves.
These two teams will face off for Game 2 on Saturday June 18th at 8p on ABC.
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