Avalanche hold off late charge from Tampa, win Stanley Cup for first time in 21 years
FiredUp Network Sports Writer
Monday, June 27, 2022
Final Score: 2-1
TAMPA–The 2016 Golden State Warriors. The 2016 Cleveland Indians. Both are teams that have blown 3-1 leads in their respective final series. The 2022 Colorado Avalanche will not be one of those teams.
After leading 3-1 over the defending back-to-back champs the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bolts would take an emphatic game five victory in Denver to bring the series back to Tampa for game six on Sunday night. With a track record like theirs, many Avs fans feared the worst after what was once a comfortable lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.
But this Colorado team is different from years past, and they set out to prove that they weren’t just some second round-exit regulars. Just one win away from their first Stanley Cup in 21 years, the Avalanche battled through an early 1-0 lead to come back and take a 2-1 victory over the Bolts in Tampa, to officially end a would-be dynasty, and claim their spot atop the throne as the NHL’s best for 2022.
”They’re a team that’s looking to become a dynasty, we’re a team that’s looking to create a legacy,” is what defenceman Cale Makar had to say prior to game one of the series.
The 23-year-old took what he said quite literally as the 2022 Norris winner was brilliant through the season, and somehow, even better through the playoffs. Coming off a 28-goal season with a total of 77 points, Makar tallied 29 points through his 21 playoff games contested. The numbers were good enough for a unanimous win of the Conn Smythe Trophy which recognizes the playoffs’ most valuable player - becoming the first player to secure every vote since they began getting tabulated five years ago. The performance has him with some of the most elite company, as only Paul Coffey (37 points in 1985), Brian Leetch (34 points in 1994) and Al MacInnis (31 points in 1989) had more prolific playoff performances from the blue line.
Steven Stamkos opened the scoring for Tampa just under four minutes into the first period on Sunday night, but it was the only time they’d have any offensive success in game six as Colorado’s pressure was relentless. It led to an eventual equalizer from Nathan MacKinnon early in the second, before Artturi Lehkonen grabbed the go-ahead goal 10 minutes later. Lehkonen’s goal would be the one that would do it as a desperate last-ditch effort from Tampa in the dying time wouldn’t come to fruition as the clock wound down on the chance to create history for the Bolts.
It’s the stark reality of professional sports as Colorado enjoyed the best-tasting champagne of their life in the visitors’ locker room at Amalie Arena, while the home team gets to go home with nothing but the thoughts of how oh so close.
3:48 - TB Steven Stamkos (11) 1-0
1:54 - COL Nathan MacKinnon (13) 1-1
12:28 - COL Artturi Lehkonen (8) 2-1