Stanley Cup Final Game Six: After 21 Years...
The Colorado Avalanche won their 3rd Stanley Cup in franchise history, with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Six
Where were you on June 9, 2001? You know where I was? I was in my living room watching Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Final between the Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils. I watched as Alex Tanguay scored those two goals (one in the first, one in the second), and Joe Sakic put one in as well. I watched as the Avs won 3-1 and captured the Stanley Cup, and I remember that feeling so well. I wanted it again. Fast forward 21 years and 17 days, and that feeling returned.
The Colorado Avalanche entered Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning, with another chance to clinch the Cup. The Bolts were coming off a big road win in Game Five, and they were looking to use their home ice to force one last trip to Denver for Game Seven. They got off to a quick start, as Steven Stamkos capitalized on a Colorado turnover, and put it past Darcy Kuemper to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead. It was the third straight game where the Bolts scored first, but that would be the period's only goal, as Kuemper shut the door the rest of the way in the opening frame.
The 2nd period saw the Avalanche start to take over. Within the first two minutes, Nathan MacKinnon tied it up with his 2nd goal of the Final and his 13th in the 2022 playoffs--tying him with the eliminated Evander Kane for the lead. The Avalanche pressed for the lead, but so did the Lightning, but Kuemper would stop Tampa Bay at every turn. Speaking of turn, the Avalanche would turn the tide later on, as Artturi Lehkonen gave the Avs the lead at the 12:28 mark of the 2nd period. Colorado later went on the power play, but it would be killed off. Each team only had one PP in the game, and after 40 minutes, the Avalanche led 2-1.
Now you can imagine what I was going through. The final 20 minutes. The Avs were a period away from hoisting the Cup. I was a rock (or tried to be) for the first half of the period, taking it five minutes at a time. What I saw, oddly, was Colorado dominating enough, while Tampa Bay couldn't piece two straight shots together. By the time the period reached the final five minutes, I was amped up, and then with about two minutes left, the Bolts finally get possession deep enough for them to pull Andrei Vasilevskiy for the extra attacker. That's where the shouting came in:
"Get the puck!!! Get the puck!!! GET THE PUCK!!!"
I was literally screaming for the Avs to get the puck and go for the net, because that would seal it. The Avs wouldn't make the empty net. It ended up not being needed. Colorado played just enough defense in the end, and when that puck went out of the zone with 11 seconds left, I knew. I knew! I counted down the final seconds, and when the clock reached all zeroes, it was official. The Colorado Avalanche are Stanley Cup Champions!
Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of this year's playoffs. It was a no-doubter. In 20 games, Makar racked up 29 points (8 G/21 A), and some of his key performances include scoring an OT winner in Game Two vs the Nashville Predators, and his five point performance in Game Four of the Western Conference Final against the Edmonton Oilers--with one of his five points being an assist on Artturi Lehkonen's OT winner. Makar became the youngest defensemen to win the Conn Smythe since Bobby Orr did it all the way back in 1970. What an impressive career so far for Makar! A Calder, a Norris, a Conn Smythe, and a Cup--and he's only 23 years of age!
Nathan MacKinnon is a Stanley Cup Champion, and he needed this. We all felt his frustration after last year's heartbreaking Elite Eight loss. He fretted that he hadn't won a thing in all the years he's played. Now he has. Now he has a Stanley Cup, just like his Cole Harbour buddy, Sidney Crosby. MacKinnon had a career postseason: 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points total. Only Makar and Mikko Rantanen (25 points) had more. MacKinnon is part of that upper echelon group of talents in the NHL, and now he has a Cup of his own. I am immensely happy for him.
There is, however, one player that I am happier for than Nathan MacKinnon, and that, without question, is Nazem Kadri. Kadri has been through so much in his long career, with the biggest thing behind held against him being his suspensions. His last two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs saw him suspended during the playoffs due to bad hits, and it was during the 2019 offseason that he was traded to the Avalanche. In his first postseason with Colorado, Kadri racked up 19 points (9 G/10 A) in the bubble, and it had this Avalanche fan believing that his past was behind him. Then 2021 happened, and Kadri's hit to Justin Faulk brought in another suspension, and more doubt. Kadri worked hard to prove his detractors wrong. He had a career regular season (28 G, 59 A, 87 P), and had 15 points in the playoffs (7 G/8 A), and as a result, Nazem Kadri is a Stanley Cup Champion, and it's very well deserved.
This was an amazing championship run for the Colorado Avalanche. 16-4 record overall, only the 1988 Edmonton Oilers did better in this current era (16-2). Never trailed in a series, never faced elimination, never lost back-to-back games. Went 9-1 on the road, and clinched all of their series away from Ball Arena. Also, the Avalanche went 5-1 in OT, including two OT wins in the Cup Final. The Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup in franchise history, with their last two victories coming against defending champions.
Now, I want to end this with the following words for my fellow Avalanche fans. We did it. It was a long and hard journey to the top, but we made it there. I still remember how hurt I was when we lost that series to the Golden Knights last year, and honestly, I think that's what fueled this team. This was, by far, the best of our three runs to the Cup, and it ended with beating a team who had won 11 straight playoff series. So in closing, I want to say to my fellow Avalanche fans, drink this in for the offseason, because come October, we're doing it again!
About the Creator
Clyde E. Dawkins
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Nice work here. And since it seems to be a theme...I am not an Avs fan, but they played a great series! #HabsForever
Great review. Can't agree with your last line, though. Go Leafs!