Friday, June 24, 2022 08:00 PM (ET)

Lightning stay alive with late goal to beat Avalanche

Field Level Media
Jun 25, 2022

The Stanley Cup was in the building on Friday in Denver, and the Colorado Avalanche were ready to skate it around the ice for the third time in franchise history.

The party will have to wait. The Tampa Bay Lightning spoiled things and got right back into the series.

Ondrej Palat scored a tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves, and the Lightning beat Colorado 3-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, extending the series.

Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also scored and Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev had two assists each for the Lightning, who kept their hopes alive for a third straight championship.

"We had to win one here to make it a series," Tampa Bay forward Pat Maroon said. "Warriors are warriors."

Colorado leads the best-of-seven series 3-2 heading to Game 6 at Tampa on Sunday night. The Avalanche wrapped up their previous three playoff series on the road, where they are 8-1 in this year's postseason.

"We had a great opportunity tonight," Colorado defenseman Cale Makar said. "We have another great opportunity to do the same thing in Tampa."

Makar and Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist each and Darcy Kuemper turned away 26 shots for the Avalanche.

The game was tied 2-2 late when Palat got a pass from Victor Hedman and took a shot from the slot that went off Kuemper's stick and through his pads at 13:38. It was Palat's 11th goal of the playoffs.

"I was just trying to get open, get lost a little bit," said Palat, who also scored a decisive late goal against the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. "I saw Heddy, he sees me, so it was an easy shot for me. I was just trying to one-time it and lucky enough it went in."

The Avalanche were called for a too-many-men penalty with 2:43 left, thwarting their comeback hopes and sending the series back to Florida.

"It's not supposed to be easy and it's not going to be easy," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We knew that coming into tonight."

The Lightning didn't take advantage of two early power plays but broke through late in the first period. Rutta received a pass from Perry in the neutral zone, skated into the Avalanche end and blasted a shot from the right circle through Kuemper at 15:23.

It was Rutta's first of the playoffs.

"I didn't love our start. It was OK, we were checking and playing the right way," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "It didn't seem like we got on the attack as much as we wanted, but with the two penalties, it takes a little longer to get going."

Colorado tied it early in the second period. Vasilevskiy couldn't corral Makar's high shot, and it bounced into the crease, where Nichushkin tapped it in at 5:07. It was his ninth of the postseason.

Minutes later, Makar took a tripping penalty to give Tampa Bay a four-on-three power play, and the Lightning cashed in. Kucherov's shot from the high slot went off the right post and in at 8:10 to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. It was his first goal of the series and 10th of the playoffs.

As they did in Game 4, the Avalanche tied the game at 2-all early in the third period. Makar's shot from the right circle was stopped by Vasilevskiy, but it deflected off the skate of Tampa Bay's Erik Cernak and through the goaltender's legs at 2:31.

It was Makar's eighth goal of the postseason.

--Field Level Media

Covers 25 Years Logo Established in 1995,
Covers is the world
leader in sports
betting information.
Covers is verified safe by: Evalon Logo GPWA Logo GDPR Logo GeoTrust Logo Evalon Logo