Times-Call (Longmont)

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

Andrei Vasilevski­y.

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.

Defensive breakdowns

The Avs gave up highdanger chances throughout the night by getting sloppy defensivel­y. After Rantanen’s howitzer was

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