NHL Playoffs: Lightning light up Avalanche, Nikita Kucherov injured
The NHL Playoffs moved from Denver to Tampa giving the Lightning new found energy as they beat the Avalanche 6-2.
As the Tampa Bay Lightning continue their quest to three-peat, their next order of business is to tie this series at two games each on Wednesday. Although another big concern is the health of offensive star Nikita Kucherov.
Late in the third period, Kucherov was going for a puck when Avs’ defenseman Devon Toews gave him a cross check. Off balance, he went hard into the boards and injured his left leg. Kucherov attempted to stay in the game but took himself out due to lingering pain.
Afterwards, head coach Jon Cooper had no update to provide. Tampa also played without Braden Point, who was considered a game-time decision coming in. The Avalanche are without Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky (both are day-to-day).
NHL Playoffs: Lightning 6 vs Avalanche 2
Steven Stamkos led the charge for the Lightning with a goal and an assist. Ondrej Palat and Pat Maroon also recorded a goal and an assist in the win. Anthony Cirelli, Corey Perry, and Nick Paul were the other goal scorers.
“We knew that this was a pretty much a must-win game for us,” Stamkos said. “So I thought we played like it tonight. I thought our attention to detail was a lot better and the game plan, not that it changed too much, but we executed it. So a way better effort for our group.”NHL.com
Kucherov recorded two assists before leaving the contest with around six minutes remaining. That gave him 25 points for the third straight playoff year. He is only the fourth player in NHL history to accomplish the feat.
After two difficult games on the road, Andre Vasilevskiy bounced back with a 37 save performance. It was Tampa’s eight straight win in the postseason at Amalie Arena.
On the losing side, Gabriel Landeskog scored both goals for the Avalanche with Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar assisting on each of them.
Darcy Kuemper gave up 5 goals on 22 shots before being pulled for Pavel Francouz, who stopped 9 out of 10 shots.
This was only the third loss the Avalanche have suffered this postseason, with the other two coming at the hands of the St. Louis Blues in Round Two.
“They came out and they’re fast and desperate, and we knew that going into it. We were going to expect them to be coming out hard here at home, kind of backs against the wall and be desperate,” Landeskog said via NHL.com. “But I thought we did some really good things, and we’ve got to clean some up in our zone and make sure we’re exiting our zone a little more clean than we did tonight.”