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Not Done Yet! Lightning Force Game 6 In 3-2 Win Over Avalanche.

(Photo via USA Today)

By Jake Ricker

The Lightning were now facing their greatest challenge yet, needing to win three games in a row while playing two in Colorado. But game 5 came first, and the Lightning battled until to the end to force a game 6.

1st Period

The crowd in Ball Arena was rocking and was probably the loudest they have been all series. The Avalanche used that momentum to pick up some early chances, but it was the Lightning who would get the game's first power play and a chance to take an early lead. Unfortunately for the Lightning, their power play struggles would continue failing to convert on not one, but two power plays.

Despite Colorado having the early momentum from killing off two penalties, the Lightning began to fight back with a few chances of their own. Brandon Hagel put on one of his best shifts of the finals as he ran circles around the Colorado defense and even fished the shift with a great shot on net, but Kuemper made a big stop and kept the game scoreless.

The Lightning then took their first penalty of the game as Stamkos would head off for tripping. Colorado quickly got to work creating a good chance in close that was turned away by Vasilevskiy. For what felt like the first time this series, the Lightning successfully killed off the penalty.

It still looked like Colorado was in control of the game, but Jan Rutta had other plans. Rutta ripped a 95 MPH slap-shot from the right side and put it right past Kuemper for a 1-0 Lightning lead. Colorado would make one last push to try and tie the game before the end of the period, but Vasilevskiy stood tall, and the Lightning would take a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.

2nd Period

The Lightning had a lot more energy after scoring the first goal, and it showed early in the second period. The 4th line for the Lightning was especially good, with Maroon putting in hard work behind the net to keep the puck alive. Unfortunately, things would take a turn for the worse as the Lightning were called for icing despite Paul being extremely close to the puck. On the ensuing face-off, the Avalanche fired a quick shot on net that hit Vasilevskiy and trickled to his left, where Nichushkin buried it to tie the game at 1.

The Avalanche had the momentum back and were about to have a great opportunity to take the lead with a delayed penalty coming to the Lightning. However, the Avalanche would take a penalty of their own, and we would instead play 4-on-4. Then shortly into the 4-on-4, the Avalanche would take a tripping penalty, giving the Lightning a 4-on-3. The power play has been an issue all series for the Lightning, but it would finally come through as Kucherov blasted on from the point to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead.

Both teams then played some of their best hockey as the Lightning looked to extend their lead while the Avalanche pushed to tie the game. Colorado fans were not happy with the way the game was being called as they thought there were multiple plays that should have resulted in a penalty. But the fans didn't make the call, and the Lightning kept pushing. Colton then just missed a pass breaking up a potential 2-on-1 but even worse, Colton would be called for a high-stick giving Colorado a much-needed power play. The Lightning were on the ropes, but they once again came up big and killed off the penalty. Stamkos then had two great chances in front of the net, but he couldn't convert on either, and the Lighting would head to the second intermission up by one.

3rd period

The Avalanche needed a goal quick to try and tie this game up, and that's exactly what they did. Just a few minutes into the game, Makar tied the game at two and got the Avalanche faithful back on their feet. It was a battle back and forth, with both teams creating chances on either end of the ice. The Lightning were creating good chances, but they couldn't find the back of the net.

As the game went on and the clock ticked down, anticipation began to build. Now in the next goal wins territory, the Cup was being wheeled into the arena just in case the Avalanche found a way to take the lead. But with just 7 minutes remaining, Lighting struck, and it was non-other than Ondrej Palat, who found himself wide open and buried the shot to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead.

It was now a matter of holding off the Avalanche until the clock hit zeros, but it would be no easy task. Vasilevskiy made some great saves, and the Lightning defense cleared out the puck when they could, keeping the Avalanche from tying the game. Then the hockey gods decided to play a cruel joke on the Avalanche as they were called for too many men on the ice with just over two minutes to go. The Lightning, in no rush, took advantage of the power play and killed off two minutes. The Avalanche pulled their goalie, but it was too late as the Lightning held them off and forced game 6.

Final thoughts

The Lightning had to put their best foot forward, and while it took a little bit, they eventually did just that. The Lightning never stopped pushing despite Colorado continually trying the game, just like game 4. Except unlike game 4, The Lightning took the lead before the end of the third. Ondrej Palat continues to find ways to score huge goals late in games. It's amazing how much of an underrated player he still is despite all these late heroic goals. Vasilevskiy was solid in net, and most importantly, special teams came through tonight.

The Lighting still have two more wins to go, but now game 6 is back home which should give the team an extra boost. The Job isn't done, and the Lighting will have to continue to play their best hockey, but if anyone can do it, it's the back-to-back champs. Game 6 will be on Sunday, June 26th at 8 PM on ABC.

Three Stars

Our Three STars

1. Palat TBL (1G)

2. Makar COL (1G, 1A)

3. Sergachev TBL (2A)

Medias three stars

1. Palat TBL (1G)

2. Makar COL (1G, 1A)

3. Vasilevskiy TBL (35SV)

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