LIGHT­NING 5, AVALANCHE 2 Tampa Bay ex­tends Avalanche’s los­ing streak to four games

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Mike Cham­bers

TAMPA, FLA.» The hole is wi­den­ing for the Avalanche, which is fa­mil­iar with De­cem­ber dives, hav­ing gone 3-12 in the month a year ago en route to the worst sea­son in club his­tory.

Thurs­day night at Amalie Arena, cap­tain Gabe Lan­deskog scored on his first shift in his first game back from serv­ing a fourgame sus­pen­sion, but Colorado couldn’t keep pace with what is con­sid­ered the NHL’s best team and fell to 0-4 this month.

Tampa Bay cap­tain Steven Stamkos had a goal and three points in the Light­ning’s 5-2 vic­tory — pin­ning the Avalanche with its fourth con­sec­u­tive loss. Stamkos scored on a break­away just 25 sec­onds af­ter Lan­deskog struck 1:21 into the game. Former Avs goalie Peter Bu­daj got the win for Tampa Bay, which has won three in a row and is the first team to reach 20 vic­to­ries. Bu­daj al­lowed even-strength goals to Lan­deskog and Erik John­son but stopped J.T. Com­pher on two break­aways.

“He made two good saves on two good chances to score,” Com­pher said. “Ob­vi­ously, I would have liked to have put them in. They were big parts of the game.”

John­son’s goal tied it 2-2 late in the first pe­riod. The Light­ning (20-6-2) re­ceived the go-ahead goal from Vladislav Namest­nikov at 8:09 of the sec­ond pe­riod and went ahead 4-2 on Alex Kil­lorn’s power-play goal at 4:57 of the third. Kil­lorn’s one-time blast off Stamkos’ cen­ter­ing feed skimmed off the stick of John­son and then off the shoul­der of goalie Se­myon Var­lamov. It came dur­ing Mikko Ran­ta­nen’s hold­ing-the-stick minor be­side Tampa Bay’s net — a penalty Ran­ta­nen re­fused to ac­cept be­cause he said he never held Vic­tor Hed­man’s stick.

The Light­ning, which was 1-of-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 in penalty killing, added a short­handed empty-net goal at 16:41 of the third pe­riod.

“We get our first lead in the first pe­riod and they get a break­away and score right off the bat of that,” said Lan­deskog, who had three shots in 20:48. “Go­ing into the sec­ond pe­riod, it’s a 2-2 game and we’re in a good spot. Their timely goals killed our mo­men­tum.”

The Avs (12-13-2) were be­gin­ning a four-game trip af­ter go­ing 1-4 on their dis­ap­point­ing five-game

home­s­tand. They were out­shot 17-7 in the first pe­riod Thurs­day but earned more pos­ses­sion time as the game went on. Tampa Bay fin­ished with a 32-30 ad­van­tage in shots.

“They’re go­ing to spend some time in (the of­fen­sive zone) be­cause they’re so tal­ented and they work; you have to find a way to min­i­mize their chances,” Avs coach Jared Bed­nar said. “Ob­vi­ously, this is the best team in the league right now. As a young team we have to pay at­ten­tion to the process and con­tin­u­ing to find things to build on. There were some things in that game that we did that were bet­ter than what we did in the last three games at home. So it’s a step for­ward. Now we’ve got to take an­other step.”

Chris O’Meara, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Light­ning goal­tender Peter Bu­daj makes a glove save with the Avalanche’s Alexan­der Ker­foot nearby dur­ing Thurs­day’s game in Tampa, Fla. Bu­daj, a for­mer Avs goalie, made 28 saves in the Light­ning’s 5-2 win.

Chris O’Meara, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Tampa Bay Light­ning goal­tender Peter Bu­daj gets “snowed” while mak­ing a save on a shot by the Avalanche dur­ing the first pe­riod of Thurs­day night’s game.

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