Cup difference becomes detriment
The last time the Avalanche skated on Tampa ice, it ended with one player dropping a trophy. This time, it ended with one smashing his stick.
Colorado’s return to the site of its recent Stanley Cup glory went disastrously against a Lightning team thirsty for revenge and blood: The home team reveled in a 5-0 rout of the defending champs, while Avalanche leading scorer Mikko Rantanen was left frustrated and without a twig after conceding the fourth goal. He was hit with a 10-minute misconduct.
The Avs (27-19-4) have dropped three of four available points since returning from the NHL All-star break. They were shut out for the fifth time this season after just one last year.
The most one-sided element of a Stanley Cup Final with four one-goal games was special teams.
Somehow, the Avalanche stifled the Lightning’s power play with a 17-for19 penalty kill rate (89.5%) plus a short-handed goal. The Avs seemed poised to keep up that success in Thursday’s rematch, entering Tampa on a 21-for-23 stretch.
But the Lightning reminded Colorado they boast the league’s third-best power play.
Corey Perry floated to the net front as Colorado’s Devon Toews cleared out, leaving the veteran wide open to execute a forehandbackhand move against Alexandar Georgiev. That started the scoring, then Tampa added another power play goal in the second when Toews and Valeri Nichushkin couldn’t make a play with their sticks against Brayden Point.
The Lightning finished 2-for-3, matching their power play goal total from the entire six-game series.
Vasilevskiy is still world’s best
The Avalanche struggled to finish against Pittsburgh’s subpar goaltender, Casey Desmith, on Tuesday. So it was predictable enough that they would have trouble with the great
Shots were only 32-30 Tampa, but Vasilevskiy’s first shutout of the season included a breakaway glove snag against Matt Nieto and an extraordinary blocker save against Rantanen that led to Tampa’s second goal on the rush.
The Avs gave up highdanger chances throughout the night by getting sloppy defensively. After Rantanen’s howitzer was