Hard hitting was constantly on display as Colorado spoil Brayden Point’s return in a Game 1 victory at home for the Avalanche in overtime. For a well-rested team Colorado played as if they had just had a game the other night. Despite Point returning Tampa had to play catch up all night in order to stay in the game. While it took a bit for the offense to get rolling, the Lightning eventually did in what was an entertaining Game 1. The home crowd of Colorado really amped them up as they were able to halt the Lightning from scoring late and wasted no time to end the game in overtime.
Avalanche dominate early
Starting off, it took nearly 3 minutes for Tampa to get their first shot on net. However, Colorado had a better start to the game with more prime scoring chances than the Lightning With 14:53 to go in the period the Lightning received the first power play of the night. Despite an early rush on the man advantage Tampa could not score on the power play. Afterwards, Colorado instead opened up the scoring making the already loud crowd even louder. Gabriel Landeskog tapped in a shot from Bowen Byram that already looked like it was heading in anyway. Next, Colorado took advantage of miscues by the Tampa defense to extend their lead. Valeri Nichushkin scored five hole on Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Avs a 2-0 lead midway through the period.
Bolts score, Colorado answers
For a team that has not played in over a week Colorado showed no signs of rust. Nick Paul brought the Lightning back to life with a goal to cut the lead 2-1. Erik Johnson tried to clear the puck, but Paul was there to slip the puck past Darcy Kuemper. As the period went on Colorado kept applying pressure on the Bolts making it hard for Tampa to get back in the game. Then, with just over 4 minutes to go Colorado went on the power play for the first time tonight. Unfortunately, Tampa surrendered another penalty giving the Avalanche a quality scoring chance. As a result, Colorado extended the lead on the power play with a goal from Artturi Lehkonen. Remainder of the period went scoreless heading into the 2nd period with the Avs leading 3-1.
Silent start to the period
Unlike the first period it was the Lightning that generated the first scoring chance of the period. Soon after, Colorado quickly regained momentum making sure the puck did not leave Tampa’s zone too many times. Next, a scrum ensued causing 4-on-4 hockey to be played. Then, Tampa went on the power play for the second time but could not score on the man advantage. Game would be silent for a bit until Tampa came back to life and quickly tie the game.
Lightning score a quick pair of goals
First, Ondrej Palat tipped-in a shot from Nikita Kucherov to cut the Avs lead 3-2. Then, less than a minute later Mikhail Sergachev ripped a shot that passed Kuemper to tie the game 3-3. The 2 goals in 48 seconds were the fastest two goals scored in the Final in Tampa history. Because of the goal Tampa was able to tip the ice in their favor. Finally, Lightning played a more control game on defense to contain the Avalanche offense. Game remained 3-3 heading into the third period.
No shortage of hitting in Game 1
Tempo of the third period was no different than the previous two periods. Physical battles with constant hitting continued with neither team looking fatigued. With 14:12 left in the period Point took a stick to the face giving the Bolts their third power play of the night. Colorado killed off the penalty keeping the game tied 3-3. More hitting occurred with each team landing 34 hits at this point in the game. Both goaltenders stole the show by stopping everything that came their way. With 1:24 left in regulation Colorado went on the power play after Maroon is called for delay of game. To sum up, Colorado could not score before time expired and Game 1 would need overtime to declare a winner.
Gone in a blink of an eye
Overtime would not last long despite Tampa killing off the Pat Maroon penalty. Andre Burakovsky scored the game winning goal 1:23 into overtime to give the Avalanche a 4-3 victory. To summarize, the better team clearly won and the Bolts will look to regroup in Game 2 as the Avalanche lead the Final 1-0. Hitting played a factor in tonight’s game with Colorado dishing out 43 of them. This allowed Colorado to constantly steal the puck away from Tampa Bay and generate more scoring chances along with puck possession.
Three Stars of the Game
1st Star: Andre Burakovsky – Game winner in overtime
2nd Star: Gabriel Landeskog – 1 goal and 1 assist
3rd Star: Miko Rantanen – 2 assists
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