DENVER (AP) — The loss for the Tampa Bay Lightning wasn’t as easy as blushing.
What emerged from the two-time Stanley Cup champion on Saturday night was not his clutch pedigree or ability to bounce back after a loss, but rather nervousness and perhaps the realization that the Colorado Avalanche was fast approaching for his crown.
out of muscle. disappoint. Out-tossed.
Andrei Vasilevsky and the rest of the Lightning were defeated 7–0 by the Avalanche, leaving his Kool and his Mojo game as well as two games behind and nothing in a best-of-seven series.
It marked the second time in Wasilewski’s 465-game NHL career that he allowed multiple goalscorers in a game, but his teammates said it was absurd to cast the defeat on him.
“We’ve left them out to dry tonight,” said Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos. “He has been our backbone for years and years and years and we are indebted to him for playing better in the next game. And, I mean, it could have been worse. He made some incredible saves. So It’s not on him tonight by any means. We have to get better as a group.”
Lightning coach John Cooper said he never considered pulling his star goaltender, even if the score was more and more ridiculous.
“He’s the best goalkeeper in the world,” replied Cooper. “And we win together, we lose together.”
Furthermore, Cooper said, even if he considered replacing Wasilewski in the nets with backup Brian Elliott, “I don’t think he would have come out. He’s such a competitor. So he’s the best.”
And when it was at its worst, the Lightning resorted to acting like any other hockey team that finds itself trampled on: angling for the fight, not the kind everyone expected.
As the AVS took the lead, so did the Lightning’s frustration, some playful play and usually the disciplined team’s 14 penalties with 14 penalties used to knock opponents out of their game, not the other way around.
“They are playing at an elite level right now. Give them credit,” Cooper said. “We are not.”
The Lightning had reduced their 4–3 overtime loss to the Avalanche in Game 1, insisting that they would bounce back behind their legendary goaltender now that they would get a first look at the speed and skill that the Avalanche throws at teams. .
They were equally convinced they had understood Darcy Kumper after erasing a pair of two-goal deficits in the opener.
Instead, the Lightning became the third team to allow three or more first-period goals in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, joining the Minnesota North Stars in 1981 against the Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1936 against Detroit . Red Wings.
And it was the biggest shutout in a Stanley Cup final since Pittsburgh’s 8–0 win over the North Stars in 1991.
The Avalanche kept both their lead and mostly their heads and are now halfway to snatch Lord Stanley’s Cup from the Lightning as the series moves to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Monday night.
Lightning’s confidence to win Game 2 and take control of the series was well established. They were the best bounce-back team in the NHL, winning back-to-back titles and reaching their third consecutive Stanley Cup, going 18–1 after a playoff loss since the start of the first round in 2020. Vasilevsky was in the net for all those games.
Make it 18-2.
With Vasilevsky still in mind at the net in the third period, the black Capricorn became the first defenseman since Detroit versus AVS’s Paul Coffey in 1996 to hit a power play goal and a short-handed goal in the same playoff game.
The Lightning have yet to beat the Avalanche this season, having lost twice in the regular season to Denver, once in overtime and once in a shootout. If they don’t get their issues fixed quickly, they won’t get a chance to return to Denver after games 3 and 4 in Tampa.
“Everyone in that room is still confident we can get this out,” Lightning defenseman Victor Heidman insisted. “You know, we made it a little harder for ourselves, but that’s okay.”
Avalanche still not breathing.
“It’s a championship-caliber team,” Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson said of the Lightning. “I don’t think they get discouraged. I think they’re patient and they’ll adjust and they’ll let things go and I think that’s what makes them so successful. For us, we can’t think that We are under their skin. We can’t think of anything like that.”
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