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Avalanche win Stanley Cup, beat Lightning 2-1

TAMPA, Florida – The Colorado avalanches return to the top of the hockey mountain after dethroning the two-time defending champions.

After a goal and an assist from Nathan MacKinnon, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third time in franchise history and for the first time in more than two decades beating Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Sunday night’s final 6 game. the evening.

It is the first title for this core group led by MacKinnon, leader Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar and follows years of frustration in the playoffs. The Avalanche lost in the second round each of the last three seasons, after being knocked out in the first round in 2018.

With a combination of speed, high-level talent and experience gained from these defeats, Colorado broke this time – winning every part of the league, eliminating the team that has lifted the Cup in the last two years. As fully expected Avalanche was not easy.

After an early overthrow of Makar that resulted in Steven Stamkos’s goal putting them in a hole and many other blows and bruises, Avalanche equalized when MacKinnon beat 2021 playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevskiy with an almost perfect shot and took the lead. in another great goal. from the acquisition of Artturi Lehkonen with a trading deadline. They locked things up holding the elf and not letting Tampa Bay even shoot Darcy Coomber in the third period.

When they did, it was there. Made from Arizona in a trade last summer to support the sport’s most important position, Kuemper was once again stable and made his most important save with less than seven minutes left when he slipped to deny capable winger Nikita Kucherov.

Just as Lightning went many times exchanging high draft options and prospects for the best chance of winning the Cup, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic was not afraid to get Lehkonen, defender Josh Manson and veteran in March. striker Andrew Cogliano. They became the perfect complement to the core of Colorado who had shown many promises in the playoffs and so far had not given a championship.

Sakic, who led the first two Colorado teams to win the title in 1996 and 2001, used a familiar recipe to beat his team. Like Pierre Lacroix, the architect of those Avalanche teams that were so successful after the organization moved to Denver, Sakic prioritized ability, speed and flexibility.

That speed overwhelmed all opponents along the way, from a first Nashville sweep to a tough six-game series against St. Louis, another Edmonton sweep and then Tampa Bay, which prevented a one-time suspension but ended in two wins. . to become the first NFL three-pea champion since the early 1980s New York Islanders dynasty.

“It’s a group that wants to become a dynasty,” Makar said. “We are a team that wants to start a legacy.”

This legacy ultimately includes a championship, thanks in large part to consistent coach Jared Bednar, who in his sixth season found a way to focus his team on the mission he had from the beginning of the training camp. This mentality helped Avalanche overcome the hump and Bednar became the first coach to win the Stanley Cup, the American Hockey League Calder Cup and the ECHL Kelly Cup.

Bednar won the chess match with Jon Cooper, also a Stanley and Calder Cup champion, who is considered one of the best tactics in the NHL. But things are starting to get in the way of Lightning, who are facing their toughest competition since their success began in 2020.

Injuries that sidelined top center Braden Point and limited other key players proved too much for an opponent who had been stacked to withstand almost anything. The depth allowed Avalanche to overtake the lost defender Samuel Girard with a broken chest and complete the extension of Lightning without Cup Final Game 1, Andre Burakovsky was sidelined due to injury and prominent winger Valeri Nichushkin swayed with an injured right foot and central Nazem playing through a broken right thumb.

The Avalanche beat the Lightning before the damage can cost them dearly and before the terrifying chance of facing a Game 7 exclusion. Instead, they will return to Denver to celebrate the Stanley Cup.

Although not as emotional as the last two years, when Commissioner Gary Batman handed the trophy to Stamco, Colorado’s victory at the end of the series marks the end of another NHL season during a pandemic – the first return to 82 games. with regular playoff form from 2019. was not without problems, including the postponement of dozens of games and the withdrawal from the Olympic Games.

Avalanche and Lightning occasionally faced difficult ice conditions playing in late June, something that should not happen as the league returns to normal. When that happens, Colorado will have the opportunity to defend its crown and try to follow Tampa Bay to retain an eternal contender for the Cup.

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Avalanche win Stanley Cup, beat Lightning 2-1 Source link Avalanche win Stanley Cup, beat Lightning 2-1

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