Stanley Cup champs still in the hunt after dramatic late goal


Tampa Bay Lightning remain in contention for a third straight Stanley Cup

This Tampa Bay Lightning team has shown a resilience in recent seasons and it was again apparent on Friday night when they triumphed in a hard fought 3-2 victory on the road to spoil the Colorado Avalanche’s party in game five of the series.

Ondrej Palat scored the decisive goal with just over six minutes remaining on the clock, while Russian goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy formed something of an impenetrable barrier in front of his net, securing 35 saves in front of a Colorado crowd who before the game stood on the brink of what would be their first Stanley Cup in more than two decades.

Another of the Lightning’s Russian stars, Nikita Kuchero, also got on the scoresheet as did Jan Rutta, while Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar each scored for Colorado. 

The win ensures that the Stanley Cup goes to game six and comes after a controversial fourth game won by the Avalanche in spite of suggestions that they may have had too many men on the ice for the winning score.

Somewhat ironically, a too many men on the ice penalty was called on Colorado in Friday night’s game.

The late win again showed the Lightning’s never-say-die attitude which proved immensely productive this year, after coming back from a 3-2 losing position against Toronto in round one. They also rebounded from a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers.

But if Jon Cooper’s team are to win a third straight title it would complete a remarkable turnaround, and make them the first team since the 1940’s to win the Stanley Cup despite being 3-1 down in the series.

The omens are good: Cooper’s team are 3-0 this season in potential elimination games.

The mental fortitude you have to have to play in the environment they just played in, there’s a reason these guys have a couple rings on their fingers,” Cooper said afterwards of his team.

We’ve been here. Have we been down 3-1? No,” he added.

But we’ve been in these situations where we know the feeling of being in an elimination game.”

The drama will continue in Tampa on Sunday night where the Lightning will be looking to level the best of seven series and take it to a deciding final game.

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