For First Time in 21 Years, Colorado Win Stanley Cup, Booting Out Tampa Bay in NHL Finals

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The Lightning’s attempt to win a third straight men’s hockey NHL Championship was unsuccessful when the Avalanche gained the lead in the second period of Game 6 of the Finals and won their first Stanley Cup since 2001. Never having to face elimination, they did it convincingly.

In an effort to build a dynasty, 10 teams over the past three years have made playoff runs at the Tampa Bay Lightning. They attempted in the 2020 bubble, in Canada, all over Florida, and on the islands off the coast of New York, but they all fell short. Since 2019, no club has managed to topple a team that reached the NHL peak until last Sunday, when the Colorado Avalanche found the ideal balance of talent, speed, and tenacity required to dethrone the champion.

Avalanche First NHL Champion Other Than Tampa Since Start of Pandemic

The NHL has a new champion for the first time since the pandemic’s start. In Game 6 of the 2022 championship series, the swashbuckling Avalanche downed the valiant Lightning, 2-1, to win the Stanley Cup, one of world sports’ most coveted and enduring awards. The Avalanche players, captained by Gabriel Landeskog, held the shining trophy aloft during the post-game celebration. They kissed it as they carried it around the ice of Amalie Arena, exactly as the Lightning had done on the same ice, their home rink, the year before.

The Colorado franchise has now won three championships, but this is the first since the beloved 2001 squad, which featured Joe Sakic as team captain. Sakic, who spent seven seasons with the team before it relocated from Quebec, attended the most recent celebration once more, this time in the capacity of general manager and chief architect of a team so loaded with the skill that Tampa Bay had at last found its match.

Cale Makar, the dazzling 23-year-old defenseman who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs for his eight goals and 29 points, was one of the outstanding players Colorado desperately needed in Game 6. However, other outstanding players like Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, a tough forward, and even the occasionally criticized goalie Darcy Kuemper all contributed to removing the Stanley Cup from Tampa Bay’s obstinate grasp.

Lightning Paid Price to Playing More Games Than Any Other Club in Last 3 years

The Avalanche were excited for the chance to compete against the league’s top players going into the series. Sakic often emphasized during the season that he hoped his team could start something like Tampa has already started. Colorado was inspired by Tampa’s organization, what it has grown into, and how it has endured.

The Lightning, though, wanted more. Since the Islanders won four straight Cups from 1980 to 1983, they aimed to become the first club to win three straight. Steve Stamkos, the game’s first scorer, is the captain of the core of Lightning players, which also includes the outstanding goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and star skaters like defenseman Victor Hedman, wing Nikita Kucherov, and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev. The majority of these players were taking part in their 68th high-intensity contest in a postseason series, which began with the 2020 playoffs, which were held in so-called bubbles.

As a result of playing more games than any other club over the previous three years, the Lightning were able to avoid elimination in four of their 11 consecutive postseason series victories. They eventually gave way to a new champion after taking such a mental and physical beating. The younger, fresher Avalanche held the ball tethered in the Lightning end and allowed only four shots on goal in the third period on Sunday, further demonstrating that it was time to oust the Lightning as the league’s champion. Oddsmakers at the NHL’s best betting sites kind of predicted such an outcome.

Naturally, there was the expected flurry in the final seconds after Tampa Bay substituted an additional skater for Vasilevskiy. When Landeskog attempted to block a shot, the skate’s blade flew off, leaving him unable to skate. MacKinnon grabbed him by the shirt to assist him as he crawled on all fours to reach the bench, leaving two players injured.

The Avalanche set franchise records for wins (56) and points (119) this season, and more importantly, they carried that dominance into the playoffs with a 16-4 record thanks to the breakout performances of Makar, who won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman, and the 31-year-old Kadri, who established a career-high with 87 points. Since training camp, the Avalanche’s potential to bounce back from prior failure and finally claim a championship has been in doubt. That was put to the test in the championship round when they dropped Game 5 at home and faced the possibility of being just the second team out of 37 to lose the championship round after leading the series 3-1.

Avalanche’s Championship Resolve in Game 6

However, the Avalanche also displayed some championship resolve in Game 6. The crowd’s ovations were muted when MacKinnon tied the game 1 minute 54 seconds into the second period with a one-time shot to Vasilevskiy’s right, cutting the Lightning’s advantage to 1-0.

The Avalanche moved closer to their first Stanley Cup celebration since Sakic lifted the trophy aloft as a player, 21 years ago, when Artturi Lehkonen, who joined them in a trade Sakic made with Montreal in March, scored minutes later to give Colorado its first lead of the game.

This time, Landeskog received it first before passing it to Johnson, who has been a member of Colorado since a midseason trade in 2010–11. This included the excruciating 2016–17 campaign, in which the Avalanche finished with the league’s lowest record.

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