Avalanche vs. Lightning scores Stanley Cup Final 5: Tampa wins 3-2, stays alive after Palat wins game


Avalanche vs. Lightning scores Stanley Cup Final 5: Tampa wins 3-2, stays alive after Palat wins game

There will be a game 6. Entering a rough ball arena, the Tampa Bay Lightning delivered a brave 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals. The back-to-back champions aren’t quite done yet, despite going into the game 3-1 in the series. Colorado won Game 4 in overtime in Tampa. The Lightning retaliated on Friday and pulled out that win in Colorado.

Similar to Game 3, the Lightning took a 1-0, 2-1 lead. This time, Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov scored for Tampa Bay, and Colorado went into the third third a goal behind. It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to make amends, however, as a shot from Cale Makar ricocheted off Lightning defenseman Eric Cernak’s skate and snuck past Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Undeterred by the puck’s bad luck, the Lighting pushed on and eventually broke through to take the lead. With 6:22 left in regulation, Victor Hedman cornered himself to find Ondrej Palat wide open in the slot. Palat never missed a glorious scoring opportunity, firing a ball through the legs of Colorado goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper.

No one expected this Lightning team to topple over and present the Avalanche with the Stanley Cup, but it was an impressive win nonetheless. The Avalanche will try again on Sunday night to end the series in Game 6. The puck drop is scheduled for just after 8:00 p.m. ET.

Bolts fight back

No one should be surprised that the Lightning put up an incredible fight in Denver, but beating the Avalanche at home is a tall order, especially when fans are fuming at the prospect of another Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay looked lost in Games 1 and 2, but the team struggled for three periods in Game 5.

The Lightning didn’t really have to weather a storm in the first period, as to their credit there wasn’t an overwhelming boost from the Avalanche. Instead, it was a fairly even starting frame, and Tampa went into the dressing room with the lead. By far the most impressive part of the Bolts’ performance was how they reacted after allowing an early goal in the third period from an unfortunate jump. The ball arena was buzzing and Vasilevskiy had to make a few big saves, but Tampa bounced back quickly and scored the winning goal. The Lightning have been through a lot, and there’s just no panic in this group. This was seen tonight.

Goalkeeper is the difference

This was the most even game of the series up to that point and a goal made all the difference. That meant a big mistake by Kümper showed up big on the scoreboard. Kümper had a decent night just by looking at the shot count. He stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced, but Tampa Bay’s first goal was one he had to stop if Colorado was to end that streak. Rutta unleashed a seemingly harmless slapshot from the right circle, but it slipped between Kuemper’s glove and pad to light the lamp. Kümper settled in after that, but a mistake lost that game for the Avs. He’s had too many of those mistakes in the postseason, but it hasn’t really cost the Avs yet. His counterpart, Vasilevskiy, stopped 35 of the 37 shots against him as he put on another flawless playoff performance. I’ve said it before, but that goaltender mismatch is Tampa’s best shot at winning this Stanley Cup final.

Ondrej Palat is making it big again

Palat isn’t the biggest star in the NHL, but he certainly has a case for being the matchmaker. With another winning goal in Game 5, Palat wrote another chapter in his encyclopedia of post-season exploits.

That third-period tally was the 12th game-winning playoff goal of Palat’s career, dating back to 2014. According to Sportsnet, this ranks third among active players, behind only Joe Pavelski and Evgeni Malkin. This is not bad company. In each of Tampa Bay’s last two Stanley Cup rounds, Palat scored two crucial goals, but this year he outdid himself. That was Palat’s third game-winner of the 2022 playoffs, and there’s at least one other game he can add to that total. For whatever reason, when things get tight, Palat is the one who shows up and does it for the Lightning.

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