NHL Lightning look to avoid being pushed to edge by Avalanche


The Tampa Bay Lightning’s quest for a three-peat will not be completely finished if they lose Monday’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the visiting Colorado Avalanche.

However, the Lightning desperately need a win against an Avalanche squad that is running roughshod over them. Colorado boasts a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series after breezing to a 7-0 rout on Saturday in Denver.

“Everybody poses a different challenge, and these guys pose a challenge that we haven’t quite seen,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “We just got to overcome it. It’s time to man up and get stuff done (Monday) night.”

The Avalanche have been dominant to this point.

Colorado has scored three goals in the first period in Games 1 and 2, becoming only the third team in league history to accomplish that feat during Stanley Cup Final.

Saturday’s 7-0 romp was truly indicative of the game, in which the Lightning were outshot 30-16 and overwhelmed in all areas. It’s on the two-time defending champions to show their mettle.

“You tip your cap to the execution that they had, but at the same time, there’s a fine line between having respect for your opponent and too much respect to your opponent,” Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. “We need to realize that we got here for a reason. Let’s get back to our game and understand that they have an unbelievable team over there with great skill at every position, but so do we, so let’s find out what we’re made of when we get back home.”

As the series switches venues, the Lightning can look to their 7-1 record at home for a confidence boost. However, the Avalanche are 7-0 on the road in the playoffs.

That said, the Avalanche expect a strong response on Monday.

“I was really impressed with our team’s performance (Saturday) night. They were dialed in for all aspects of our game, highly engaged and energized,” coach Jared Bednar said. “We had a good night, a really good night for our team, but 7-0, 1-0, it doesn’t really matter. It’s one performance, and we need four or more. … We know the job’s going to be that much tougher going into Tampa.”

Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson said his team isn’t worried about letting its guard down.

“I don’t think that’s an issue at all, overconfidence,” Johnson said. “What are we confident about? We haven’t won anything yet.”

The Avalanche may be forced to make a roster change.

Forward Andre Burakovsky, who left Saturday’s game after a puck hit his hand, did not travel with the team to Tampa on Sunday. He is expected to join the team in time for the game, but it may bring Nicolas Aube-Kubel into the lineup.

The Avalanche may soon have second-line center Nazem Kadri back from hand surgery. Kadri, who was injured in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals, flew with the team.

“We’re hopeful we’ll see him at some point, not sure about Game 3 or Game 4,” Bednar said.

–Field Level Media


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