TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning suffered a 2-1 defeat in Game 6 against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night at Amalie Arena to end their hopes of winning the Stanley Cup Final in three consecutive seasons.
The Bolts started the game off on the right foot as they got an early goal from team captain Steven Stamkos in the first period to take a one-goal lead, but two goals from the away side in the second period were enough for them to ensure the victory.
This marks the third Stanley Cup Championship for the Avalanche in team history.
After lifting the trophy in 2020 and 2021, the Bolts fell two games short to claim it again in three straight years.
The 2022-23 NHL season is scheduled to begin on Oct. 11, with Tampa Bay once again aiming to pave the way for another Stanley Cup Final run.
10 Tampa Bay maintained a live blog during the game at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Check out how Game 6 went down below.
Final Score: Avalanche 2 | Lightning 1
0:00 The third period ends as the Bolts lose the Stanley Cup Final.
20:00 The third period is underway.
0:00: The second period concludes, Bolts down 2-1.
7:32 Goal: The Avalanche get their second goal of the game to take a 2-1 lead.
18:06 Goal: Colorado scores to level the score 1-1.
20:00 The second period begins.
0:00 The first period comes to a close, Bolts lead 1-0!
16:12 Goal! Tampa Bay gets the first goal of the game to take an early 1-0 lead! Scored by Steven Stamkos and assisted by Ondrej Palat.
19:37 The Bolts get an early power play.
20:00 The puck is dropped and Game 6 is underway.
8:11 p.m. Here are tonight's starters for the Bolts!
6:47 p.m. ThunderBug welcomes fans into Amalie Arena as they get ready to cheer on the Bolts in a crucial Game 6!
Original story below:
The status of a couple of key players remains uncertain for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar says there’s a chance Game 1 overtime hero Andre Burakovsky could return Sunday night following a three-game absence from the best-of-seven series. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point figures to be a game-time decision for the two-time defending champion Lightning, too.
The Avalanche lead the series 3-2, despite being without Burakovsky since the forward suffered a hand injury blocking a shot in Game 2.
“Burky is still considered day to day,” coach Jared Bednar said in Denver on Saturday before the Avalanche boarded a flight for Florida.
“I think he’s a possibility for us, he’s traveling with us,” Bednar added, “so he may be in the lineup.”
Burakovsky scored in overtime to give Colorado a 4-3 victory in Game 1, then had a goal and an assist before departing Game 2, which the Avalanche won 7-0. He remained in Denver, while the team traveled to Florida for Games 3 and Game 4, and then sat out Game 5 at home.
Point, Tampa Bay’s leading goal scorer the past two postseasons, has been limited since suffering a lower body injury during Game 7 of the Lightning’s first-round victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Point missed 10 games before returning to the lineup for Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Overall, he’s missed 13 games of the Lightning’s last 15 games.
NOT SO NICE ICE?
Colorado’s Nazem Kadri opened his TV interview at the first intermission of Game 4 Wednesday by saying, “The ice is garbage” at Amalie Arena in Tampa. It didn’t seem to slow him down when he scored the overtime winner.
After the puck bounced around a lot in Tampa Bay’s victory in Game 5 that prolonged the series, the teams return to humid Florida to contend with potentially more difficult conditions again.
“The ice, I think, is different than in Colorado,” Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson said Saturday before traveling from Denver to Tampa. “It is very humid there, and I know it’s tough to manage. It feels like the game gets maybe a little bit choppier at times, so you’ve got to look after the puck a little bit better. But both teams are playing on it, so it’s the same for both of us.”
It’s not the pristine Edmonton ice the Lightning skated on in the final two rounds in the bubble to win the Stanley Cup two years ago, but Ryan McDonagh and his teammates are plenty familiar with what it’s like in Tampa.
“We’re pretty comfortable on that ice,” McDonagh said. “I haven’t noticed too much of a difference.”
The Lightning, who only faced possible elimination once during back-to-back championship runs in 2020 and 2021, are 3-0 in such games this postseason.
They are the second team in NHL history to win at least four consecutive games when facing possible elimination. The Chicago Blackhawks won four in a row from 2013 to 2014.
Tampa Bay overcame a 3-2 series deficit to oust Toronto In the first round and rallied from down 2-0 to defeat the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference final.
The Lightning have won 11 consecutive playoff series. In addition to knowing what type of mindset it takes to stave off elimination, the defending champion also have a pretty idea what the Avalanche feel they need to clinch the title.
“Experience matters. ... Not guaranteeing we’re going to win tomorrow,” Cooper said. “But I think our mindset, and being in these situations before, makes our preparation better.”