DENVER | Jon Cooper took the correct temperature in this first clash of the finals between Lightning and Avalanche.
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“The good team won this game,” Cooper said. We have better hockey in us. I’d say we missed our hockey by almost a mile against the Avalanche. But we were still just one shot away from victory.”
The Avalanche won 4-3 in overtime after a goal from Andre Burakovsky in that first bout against the Lightning.
However, there was a larger gap in the shots on goal. The locals dominated 38–23.
Andrei Vasilevskiy got off to a slow start, allowing three goals on 15 shots in the first half. Vasilevskiy didn’t look well for Valeri Nichushkin’s goal and he controlled Mikko Rantanen’s shot on Gabriel Landeskog’s first goal of the game.
A good captain, Steven Stamkos dismissed the theory of his star goalkeeper’s bad start.
“Vasilevskiy didn’t have a bad start,” he said. They had a lot of chances, we took penalties and he got up, he gave us a chance to win.
The Lightning will find themselves on familiar ground in this final, trailing one-to-zero. In the first round of the playoffs, Steven Stamkos’ band suffered a 5-0 loss to the Maple Leafs in their first game. In the Eastern Finals, the Lightning escaped the first two games at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers in 2-6, 2-3 losses.
“Every time you lose a first game, you don’t feel good,” Cooper said. We dug a hole early in the game. I did like some parts though. We have housework to do.”
“We have a lot of faith in the dressing room,” added winger Patrick Maroon. I took a crappy penalty (at the end of the third period). I’m a veteran, I can’t make a game like this. But our numerical inferiority passed the penalty. We returned. With a deflection from Stamkos we were inches away from victory.