Not dead yet. Very much alive.
Colorado Leads the Series 2-1
Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed two goals on 39 shots for the victory. He’ll want that second goal by Landeskog back, but I think that Third Period keeping a clean sheet against Colorado with score effects may help get him in a little groove now. Frankly, he may need to steal a game or two the rest of the way for the Lightning to get this series over the line, so that was good to see.
8:19 COL Landeskog (10), (Rantanen, Makar)(PP)
13:03 TB Cirelli (2), (Maroon)
14:54 TB Palat (10), (Stamkos)
1:26 TB Paul (5), (Colton)
4:43 COL Landeskog (11), (Makar, Rantanen)(PP)
7:52 TB Stamkos (10), (Kucherov, Bogosian)
11:15 TB Maroon (4), (Kucherov, Hedman)
14:58 TB Perry (6), (Palat, Hedman)(PP)
Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Nick Paul were the game’s three stars.
Tonight, rather than expecting something good to happen, the Lightning went out and made something good happen. The forecheck was way better and the Lightning actually was the better team at 5’s through 40 minutes before Colorado went into score effects mode in garbage time in the Third Period. In fact, even with the score effects, Moneypuck has the Lightning winning xG at 5v5. Colorado, rightfully, is going to say they got a stinker performance from Kuemper and they’ll switch to Francouz for Game Four. Fair to a point, but with more zone time the Lightning revealed that Colorado is not that good positionally in their own end as they completely lost Palat and Stamkos on their goals. The Lightning just need to keep forechecking well and keep the possession game more even at 5v5 and lean into the fact their defending and goaltending should be better than Colorado’s. And, when they do have to kill penalties, I think a silver lining of that Third Period is the Lightning finally got some clean penalty kills on Colorado. They’ve been close to killing off these situations all series and seem to get bit late in PP’s when they do. They finally got a couple of kills completed tonight.
Game Four looms large. All things being even, if the Lightning can turn this into a three game series it asks questions of Colorado that they haven’t been asked all playoffs and have tripped them up in past playoffs. Things aren’t completely even, though, with Brayden Point missing tonight’s game, Nick Paul taking an apparent groin injury in the First Period of tonight’s game, and then Kucherov going out late in the Third Period after a dirty hit by Toews looked to tweak his groin, too. With a four goal lead, I’d expect that was precautionary and he’ll probably be fine, and somehow Nick Paul finished the game with his knock and actually scored a big goal. But, attrition on both sides is starting to matter with Burakovsky out tonight for Colorado and the Avalanche trying to get Kadri back, too.
Either way the work rate and intensity needs to continue to match and exceed that of Colorado’s. That and staying out of the box are the recipe. If they do that, they give themselves the best chances to exploit Colorado’s weaknesses and turn the series.
Box score and extended statistics from NHL.com.