Stanley Cup Final Game Five: Opportunity Knocks
The Tampa Bay Lightning kept their hopes of a three-peat alive with a road victory in Game Five
Ball Arena was rocking for Game Five of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, as the Colorado Avalanche were back on their home ice with a chance to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 21 years. The Tampa Bay Lightning were looking to make things difficult for the Avalanche, and force one final home game of their season.
The first period was hectic for the Avs, as Tampa Bay received not one, but two power plays. Colorado killed off both of them, and managed to tie Tampa Bay in shots despite having to be on the penalty kill twice. It looked like that momentum would lead to Colorado striking first, but that was not the case. In the last quarter of the opening frame, Jan Rutta gets one in past Darcy Kuemper, a goal many say could have been saved, and just like that, the Bolts led 1-0. That would be the score after 20 minutes, but even so, the Avs appeared to be determined to get that Cup.
The second period saw more good chances, and then, Valeri Nichushkin tied the game barely over five minutes into the period. For Nichushkin, this was his fourth goal of the Final, leading this fan to believe that he could be bucking for that Conn Smythe. We would get matching minors later in the period, but during the 4-on-4, a tripping penalty on Cale Makar resulted in a 4-on-3 power play for the Lightning. Just when it was on the verge of being killed, Nikita Kucherov puts it in--his first goal of the 2022 Final, to give the lead back to Tampa Bay. The rest of the period saw the Lightning continue to get good opportunities, while the Avalanche appeared to have trouble staying on the offensive. Nevertheless, it was only 2-1 in favor of the Bolts.
The third period saw a good start from the Avs, as they tied it very early. The goal at 2:31 was originally given to Nichushkin, which would have been his second of the game and fifth of the Final, but it was Makar who tied it up. The Avs pressed for the lead, as they (as well as their fans) felt that the Cup was on the horizon. However, with barely over six minutes left in regulation, and this fan looking forward to either an Avs lead or possible overtime, it's Ondrej Palat who gives Tampa Bay their third lead. The Avalanche's quest to tie it again was halted by a Too Many Men penalty, which was called by Corey Perry...in spite of the fact that Tampa Bay had six out there as well. The penalty came with under three minutes left, it was killed, but it gave Colorado about 40 seconds to pull Kuemper and attempt to tie it. They would not even the score.
The Lightning won Game Five by a score of 3-2, thwarting the Avalanche's plan to clinch the Cup on home ice. This was a bizarre game. The calls were screwy, some were unfair, but the reason why the Avalanche lost is the lack of golden opportunities. It also didn't help that two of Tampa Bay's three goals were preventable. Honestly, this felt like a game that Colorado should have won, and I am not saying that as an Avalanche fan. It felt like the Avalanche did a lot of things right. Two preventable goals did this team in, but even so, the Avs still have the advantage.
Game Six is Sunday back in Tampa Bay, and the Stanley Cup will be there. This will be the last home game for the Lightning in this season. What they do with it is up to them. However, the Avalanche are on a mission. They can still win the Stanley Cup; they just have to do it on the road. If the Avalanche strike hard and often, and if Kuemper rebounds once again just like he did in Game Four, then we'll see the Cup awarded to the Avalanche.
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