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Avalanche Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead With 7-0 Shutout

Photos by Ron Chenoy and Isaiah Downing

Avalanche Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead With 7-0 Shutout

The Colorado Avalanche are high rolling their way to stellar start to the 2022 Stanley Cup Final.

Earning a close 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1, Colorado came out flying on Saturday evening. In putting up seven goals against the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Lightning in Game 2 and earning a shutout in the process, the Avalanche moved to within two wins of their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.

“I thought it was exceptional,” Colorado’s head coach Jared Bednar said post-game. “I thought our guys played hard right from the drop off the puck. Highly committed on the defensive side of things. Dangerous offensively. We were tenacious on pucks, relentless puck pursuit. And that was throughout our entire lineup.”

But not too fast.

The guys on the other side of the ice are pretty good, themselves.

Not only have the Bolts won the last two Stanley Cups, they also fell behind 2-0 in their third round matchup with the New York Rangers, before storming back to win four-straight games and take the series in just six games.

Tampa is no pushover, but right now, it appears as though it is Colorado’s Cup to lose.

“People are going to be watching this game tonight and probably think the series is over, but our group, we’re a very resilient group,” Bolts’ captain Steven Stamkos said. “We get to go back home. We were in this position last round. So, whether it’s 1-0 or 7-0 or 10-0, it’s a loss in the playoffs and you’ve got to move on. We’ve got to man up as a team and as a person. You know, our team is going to do that. Let’s get back home in front of our fans, and let’s see what we’re made of.”

No team in history has actually ever gone on to win the Stanley Cup after falling behind 2-0 in the final round.

Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin each scored twice for the Avalanche, while Mikko Rantanen had three assists, as Colorado’s top players continued to produce statistically in the final playoff round. In fact, six players (Andrew Cogliano, Alex Newhook, Andre Burakovsky) had multi-point outings for the Avs.

An early power play tally from Nichushkin got Ball Arena rocking just 2:54 into the game, before Josh Manson and Andre Burakovsky added additional opening period strikes, making it 3-0 through 14 minutes of play.

The middle stanza provided Colorado with ample opportunity to strike, and it did so twice. Nichushkin got his second of the game before five minutes had ticked of the clock, and then St. Andrew’s product Darren Helm added his second of the postseason, sending Colorado back to its dressing room with a 5-0 lead through 40 minutes.

Stud defenceman Cale Makar scored twice in the third period, including a shorthanded marker, putting the finishing touches on the touchdown in Denver.

Darcy Kuemper collected his first shutout in 12 games in this year’s postseason, while Andrei Vasilevskiy gave up seven goals to Colorado – the most he has ever allowed in his 100-game NHL playoff career.

“No,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said when asked if he considered pulling Vasilevskiy. “He’s the best goalie in the world, and we win together and we lose together. Even if I did, I don’t think he would’ve come out. That’s what a competitor he is and that’s why he’s the best.”

Colorado has now lost just two of its 16 postseason games thus far.

Game 3 and 4 will be held in Tampa Bay, to which the home team will need to turn things around if it wants to even stand the slightest of chances against what has been one of the most home-dominant teams in recent memory. Puck drop on Monday and Wednesday is set for 7:00 PM central in Florida.

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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