The Stanley Cup Final is a series again. The Colorado Avalanche entered Monday’s contest with a 2-0 series lead after crushing the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2. Tampa exacted some vengeance on the Avs in Game 3, rolling to a 6-2 victory in their first home game of the series.
The loss was Colorado’s first road defeat of these playoffs, as the Avalanche were 7-0 away from Ball Arena before Monday. The six goals were also tied for the most the Avs had allowed in any game this postseason, as they gave up six in their 8-6 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s loss on Monday.
Avalanche Power Play Continues to Shine in Defeat
Colorado didn’t get much going offensively, but the power play was as sharp as ever. The Avalanche were 2-for-3 with the man advantage, and Gabriel Landeskog scored both goals. The first power-play tally was a typical Landeskog goal, with him deftly cleaning up a rebound and sliding it over the goal line for the game’s first goal.
The power play has been very sharp during the postseason, and it’s been especially good against the Lightning. The Avalanche are 19-for-56 (33.9 percent) with the man advantage throughout the postseason and have scored on five of 11 power-play chances against Tampa Bay. The second goal on Monday came with the Lightning leading 3-1 and was a less-than-typical Landeskog goal as he snapped one in from the top of the left circle.
Colorado’s power play was great during the regular season, as well. They converted on 24 percent of their chances, which was the seventh-best in the league. They’ve scored a power-play goal in 12 of their 17 postseason games. Three of the five games without a power-play tally came in the second-round series against the St. Louis Blues.
Kuemper Gets Yanked
Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper was having a pretty good series, coming off a shutout in Game 2 where he had to make just 16 saves. The Lightning made sure that performance wasn’t repeated, scoring a pair of goals in the first period and four more in the second. Three of those second-period tallies came against Kuemper, causing coach Jared Bednar to pull him in favor of Pavel Francouz just 11:15 into the middle frame.
Francouz came in and allowed just one goal over the final period and a half of the loss. He allowed a second-period goal by Corey Perry, who cleaned up a loose puck for Tampa Bay’s first power-play goal of the series. They were 0-for-7 with the man advantage before Perry’s goal, and it was the first in 16 power-play attempts for the Lightning.
This wasn’t the first time Kuemper missed time this postseason, as he missed part of the first round after taking a stick to the eye from Nashville Predators forward Ryan Johansen, and he missed time against Edmonton due to an upper-body injury. Francouz was 6-0 with a .906 save percentage and 2.86 goals-against average entering Monday’s game.
Compher Keeps Up Sharp Play
J.T. Compher was one of the best players on the ice for Colorado in Game 3, but because of Andrei Vasilevskiy, he didn’t get anything to show for it. Compher had four chances in front of the Tampa Bay net but was stonewalled by four fantastic saves from Vasilevskiy. The best of them came early in the first when the Lightning goalie sprawled out to make the stop with his toe.
Compher had five shots on goal in the loss, his most in any game this postseason. He also had four in Game 1 of the series, where he tallied an assist. He has been pretty good in the playoffs, scoring five goals and eight points in his 17 games. He also had the best regular season of his career, netting a career-high 18 goals and 33 points.
Compher wasn’t the only Avalanche player victimized by Vasilevskiy in Game 3, as he made 37 saves in the Lightning victory. He was perfect at even strength, too, stopping all 30 shots he faced in that situation. The Avalanche will try to get back to their winning ways on the road, as Game 4 of the series is set for Wednesday at Amalie Arena.
Lifelong storyteller and experienced hockey reporter that has covered everything from major juniors to the NHL. Worked for various newspapers across Minnesota and North Dakota, and now covering the Colorado Avalanche for THW.