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TRAIKOS: Avalanche take Recreation 1 of the Stanley Cup Remaining in extra time

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DENVER — It was moments earlier than the puck was dropped for Recreation 1 of the Stanley Cup Remaining, when a sold-out crowd at Ball Enviornment all of the sudden started chanting “We would like the Cup.”

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Contemplating the sequence had not but begun, it appeared like a untimely demand — and perhaps a tad bit preposterous.

For the previous two years, that 37-pound shiny piece of hulking {hardware} has belonged to the Tampa Bay Lightning. And when you polled most goal hockey followers, they might most likely let you know {that a} three-peat was within the playing cards. It nonetheless is likely to be. However with a 4-3 extra time win in Recreation 1 of the best-of-seven sequence — compliments of Andre Burakovsky — the Colorado Avalanche a minimum of confirmed why they is likely to be those to finish Tampa Bay’s reign.

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“They’re a staff that’s seeking to change into a dynasty,” mentioned Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar. “We’re a staff that’s seeking to begin a legacy.”

That legacy most likely gained’t come straightforward. Neither will the dynasty.

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If Recreation 1 was any indication, nothing on this sequence goes to come back straightforward.

These groups, that are one of the best that the NHL has to supply, placed on a present in a back-and-forth battle on Wednesday night time. Although sloppy at occasions, it was evenly matched and lived as much as the hype. Financial institution on this sequence going the space. Although who’s going to come back out on high is anybody’s guess.

“There’s not a whole lot of room on the market,” mentioned Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen, who had a pair of assists. “It’s going to be like that for certain the entire sequence.”

Nothing in opposition to Montreal or Dallas, whom Tampa Bay had crushed up to now two finals, however the Lightning had by no means confronted an opponent as offensively proficient or as deep defensively because the Avalanche, which completed with one of the best document within the West this yr and had swept two of their sequence and misplaced simply two video games en path to the ultimate.

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“This can be a totally different staff. I’m not used to seeing them. They play at an extremely excessive tempo,”mentioned Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “However not by a rustic mile did we give them our greatest recreation.”

Colorado, which had had been sitting at house for eight days ready for Tampa Bay to guide their ticket to the Cup last, might have been forgiven had they arrive out of the gates seeking to shake off some rust. As a substitute, it was the Lightning — significantly goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy — that confirmed early indicators of sluggishness or altitude illness.

Both manner, this might need been one in every of Vasilevskiy’s worst video games of the playoffs. It actually was his worst begin — and nothing like we’ve seen out of the defending Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

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A foul-angle shot within the opening minutes someway beat Vasilevskiy and rang off the far put up. Shortly after, Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen fired a wrist shot that sneaked beneath the arm of the lanky goaltender, with Gabriel Landeskog sweeping the unfastened puck over the purpose line for the sport’s first purpose.

Lower than two minutes later, Colorado made it 2-0 on a purpose from Valeri Nichushkin courtesy of a poor clearing try from Victor Hedman. When have you ever ever heard that mentioned earlier than? It was that type of night time from Tampa Bay.

Although Nick Paul snuck behind Colorado’s defence and minimize into the lead, the Avalanche made it 3-1 on the finish of the primary interval with two Lightning gamers sitting within the penalty field.

For another staff, it might need spelled an early finish to the night time. However for Tampa Bay, which had trailed 2-0 within the Jap Remaining to the Rangers and have been down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 to the Maple Leafs within the first spherical, it was nothing new.

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This can be a staff that routinely performs its finest hockey when its again is in opposition to the wall. They don’t stop. In what has change into a season-long slogan, they only discover a manner.

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Within the second interval, the Tampa Discover-A-Methods did simply that.

With Vasilevskiy lastly settling in, the Lightning mounted its comeback. Ondrej Palat made it a one-goal recreation on the type of play that solely a famous person like Nikita Kucherov could make. Skating into the offensive zone, Kucherov deked round one defender after which fed a no-look, backhand go in the direction of the web that landed completely on Palat’s ready stick.

Forty-eight seconds later, Tampa Bay defenceman Mikhail Sergachev tied the sport with a seeing-eye shot from the purpose that Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper by no means noticed.

From there, each groups hunkered down and performed as if the following purpose could be the profitable purpose. After a scoreless third interval, that’s what occurred, as Burakovsky ended the sport at 1:23 in extra time, when he one-timed a go from Nichushkin that beat an out-stretched Vasilevskiy.

“It was nice. He’s been enjoying properly recently. He actually deserves it,” Rantanen mentioned of Burakovsky. “He’s acquired a fantastic shot, general a pleasant play from that line.”

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