(Photo via Tampa Bay Times)
By Jake Ricker
After a huge win in game 5, the Lightning were now looking to force a game 7 with another big win at home. Unfortunately, the Lighting would fall short and the 2021-2022 season would come to a close.
The Lightning came out strong in the early going of the first period. Quickly getting ahead on the shot clock, the Lightning pushed for the first goal. Because of all the pressure, the Avalanche fell behind and took a penalty giving the Lightning an early chance on the power play.
Unfortunately, unlike game five, the Lightning only continued to struggle with the man advantage and would come up empty. The Momentum helped pushing the Lighting forward, though as Steven Stamkos bullied his was in front of the net and fired a puck past Kuempher for a 1-0 lead.
After the Lighting got off to a dominating start outshooting the Avalanche 7-2, things started to even out. Colorado began to push back, but Vasilevskiy was locked in, making a few huge stops to keep the Lighting up by one. As the period went on, It continued to feel like the Avalanche began to slowly gain some more confidence, and they continued to push for that tying goal.
The Lighting also began to battle the injury bug with Jan Rutta taking a puck to the lower body and leaving the game. While Rutta did return later in the first period, you could tell the Lightning were hurting and not playing at their full potential. Despite all that, the Lighting would head into the first intermission leading the Avalanche 1-0.
The second period was much different from the first as the Avalanche came out flying. It didn't take long for the puck luck to start bouncing their way as Mackinnon snapped a shot from a low angle and tied the game at one. With a lot of the momentum sucked out of Amalie Arena, the Avalanche kept pushing. The Lightning would get their own chances with sustained offensive zone time but could not get enough shots on goal.
The Avalanche continued to push, and Vasilevskiy could only do so much as Lehkonen fired one home to give the Avalanche 2-1 lead. It was clear the Lightning had gotten away from their game, and the Avalanche were taking advantage. The Lightning would continue to get a few chances, but Kuempher continued to shut down the few shots that the Lightning threw his way.
Things only got worse for the Lighting as this period went on as McDoughna boarded an Avalanche player giving them their first opportunity on the power play. Luckily the Lightning killed it off and still trailed by just one. Nick Paul would make one last huge shot block, and the Lightning would head into the final 20 minutes trailing by one.
3rd period/Final Thoughts
With their season on the line, the Lighting had to leave it all on the ice. Unfotently, Colorado shut them down. The Lighting would go on to put up just four shots on goal during the entirety of the third period. No sustained pressure, no high-quality shots, nothing. Whether it was the Lightning giving up or Colorado knowing just what to do to shut them down, the season's time was running out.
There really isn't much to recap in this period, as it was one of the most dominating defensive periods the Avalanche have ever played. Time continued to tick away, and eventually, the Lightning's season would come to a close as the Colorado Avalanche were now the new Stanley Cup Champions.
Fans and players often wait a lifetime to see their team win a Stanley Cup. The Lightning did it in back-to-back years and reached a third Stanley Cup final. What this team did was unthinkable in the cap era, and Lightning fans should be grateful for the amazing team we got to witness these past few seasons. All Lightning fans should be proud of this team, they sacrificed so much and never gave up.
Unfotenetly the run had to come to an end at some point, and no matter how many times you win, the last loss is always the toughest. Credit needs to be given to the Avalanche, who played a heck of a series. But as Stamkos said... "who says were done."
Medias three stars
1. Mackinnon COL (1G,1A)
2. Lehkonen COL (1G)
3. Stamkos TBL (1G)
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