TAMPA, Fla. — Ten groups during the last 3 years have tried to do away with the Tampa Bay Lightning within the postseason as they have got pursued a dynasty. They attempted within the 2020 bubble, they attempted in Canada, in North Carolina, around the state of Florida and at the islands of New York, however all of them failed.
Since 2019, no person had discovered a technique to unseat a staff that made its technique to the top, till Sunday, when the Colorado Avalanche came upon the right mix of talent, velocity and backbone had to knock out the champ.
For the primary time because the onset of the pandemic, the NHL has a brand new champion. The high-flying Avalanche defeated the Lightning, 2-1, in Recreation 6 of the finals, to seize the Stanley Cup, one among sports activities’ maximum elusive and enduring trophies.
One at a time within the postgame party, the Avalanche gamers held the gleaming Cup aloft, kissing it as they paraded it across the Amalie Area ice, simply because the Lightning had executed at the similar rink, their house rink, the 12 months ahead of.
It’s the 3rd identify for the Colorado franchise, and its first since 2001, when Joe Sakic was once the staff’s captain. Sakic, who additionally performed seven seasons with the group ahead of its transfer from Quebec, was once available as soon as once more to proportion in the most recent party, this time as the overall supervisor and architect of a membership so deep in skill that it supposed Tampa Bay had in any case met its fit.
Cale Makar, the dazzling, 23-year-old defenseman, performed at a excessive degree, with 8 targets and 29 issues. However different excellent gamers, like middle Nathan MacKinnon, wing Mikko Rantanen, the gritty ahead Nazem Kadri and wing Gabriel Landeskog, the captain, all performed a task in wresting the Stanley Cup clear of Tampa Bay’s cussed grip.
The Lightning have been hoping to turn into the primary staff to win 3 Stanley Cups in a row because the Islanders gained 4 consecutive titles from 1980 to 1983. However magnificent conducting this type of activity is a check of staying power: The goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and skaters a part of the staff’s core team of stars like defenseman Victor Hedman, wing Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, have been taking part in of their 68th high-intensity sport in a postseason sequence starting with the 2020 playoffs, that have been performed in so-called bubbles in Canada because of the pandemic.
The Lightning had performed extra video games than some other staff during the last 3 years, heading off removal in 4 video games over that span, and after 3 years of continuing psychological and bodily pounding, they in any case gave technique to a brand new champion.
In 2020, the Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars at Rogers Position in Edmonton, Alberta, a impartial website online with out fanatics, and remaining 12 months, they beat the Montreal Canadiens.
This 12 months, they turned into the primary staff since the ones early-Nineteen Eighties Islanders to succeed in a 3rd consecutive ultimate sequence, however Colorado was once the most productive of the ten groups the Lightning have performed previously 3 postseasons (together with the Islanders and the Florida Panthers two times each and every) ).
Sakic, who has proved to be just about as adept at making a winner from the entrance place of work as he was once with skates on his ft and a stick in his hand, is accountable for construction a staff that has been well known for a number of years as one of the vital rising powerhouses within the league. However that got here handiest after Colorado overlooked the playoffs six occasions in seven years, from 2011 to 2017.
The ones have been grim years for NHL hockey in Denver, however Colorado’s entrance place of work, led since 2013 by means of Sakic, added gifted gamers each and every 12 months. A lot of them got here in by means of excessive draft alternatives, because of all the ones dropping seasons. Landeskog was once interested by the second one total select in 2011. MacKinnon was once tabbed with the primary select two years later and Colorado decided on Rantanen with the tenth select in 2015. In 2017, they’d the nice sense to take Makar at No. 4 and two years after that they added defenseman Bowen Byram, additionally with a No. 4 select.
With the ones homegrown gamers, plus key additions over time like Kadri defenseman Devon Toews and wing Andre Burakovsky via trades, and wing Valeri Nichushkin via loose company, Colorado climbed into rivalry. Closing 12 months, the Avalanche gained the President’s Trophy, given to the staff with the most productive common season document. However till now, the crowd was once not able to transform common season luck into playoff glory, falling in the second one spherical in each and every of the former 3 years.
This season, with Makar breaking out to win the Norris Trophy because the league’s very best defenseman and the 31-year-old Kadri setting up a profession excessive with 87 issues, the Avalanche set franchise information for wins (56) and issues (119) and maximum essential, carried that dominance into the playoffs with a 16-4 document.
From coaching camp, the query for the Avalanche surrounded the staff’s skill to conquer previous failure and in any case win a identify. That was once examined within the finals, because the Avalanche misplaced Recreation 5 at house and confronted the possibility of turning into handiest the second one staff out of 37 to lose within the finals after taking a 3-1 sequence lead.
However in Recreation 6 the Avalanche confirmed some championship get to the bottom of of their very own.
The Lightning scored first on a objective by means of Steven Stamkos, the staff captain, who wheeled round in entrance the objective and slipped the puck between the pads of Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper. The Lightning held that lead till MacKinnon evened the rating on a one-time shot to the appropriate of Vasilevskiy simply 1 minute and 54 seconds into the second one length, stifling the cheers of the gang.
Mins later, Artturi Lehkonen, who joined the Avalanche in a industry Sakic made in March with Montreal, scored to offer Colorado its first lead of the sport, inching the staff nearer to its first Stanley Cup party since Sakic held the trophy aloft as a participant , 21 years in the past.
Within the 3rd length, the brisker legs of the more youthful Avalanche compelled the puck to stick within the Tampa Bay finish for lengthy stretches, offering additional proof that the time had in any case arrived to crown a brand new champion.