Lightning stay alive by beating Avalanche in tight Game 5

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Dreams of a Stanley Cup three-peat remain alive for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning fought through injuries and a raucous Ball Arena crowd to beat the Avalanche in Game 5 by a score of 3-2.

Colorado remains a win away from the Cup with a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 is Sunday night (8 p.m. ET) at AMALIE Arena in Tampa Bay.

As you’ll see below, Ondrej Palat scored the game-winner almost 14 minutes into the third period to win it. While the Avalanche fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie things up, the Lightning fought off elimination.

Side note: Ondrej Palat probably deserves more hype for being “clutch.”

Lightning build 1-0 lead early

Heading into Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, many expected the Avalanche to come out on fire, and wondered if the Lightning could survive those first 5-10 minutes. Instead, it was a fairly buttoned-down start.

Maybe chalk some of it up to some Lightning power-play opportunities messing with some of the flow? (The Lightning continued their power play struggles by going 0-for-2, but the Avalanche couldn’t connect on their lone opportunity in the first period.)

Via Natural Stat Trick, both teams only managed two high-danger chances apiece at 5-on-5 during the first period.

The only goal of the opening 20 minutes sure didn’t look like a high-danger chance. Once again, Darcy Kuemper allowed a goal he’d “want back.” This time, it was a Jan Rutta shot:

This thread goes into greater detail, but long story short … Rutta does not score many goals. But Kuemper’s allowed some real stinkers. The Rutta goal’s worse than the Victor Hedman Game 4 back-hander. Going game after game allowing duds has not instilled maximum confidence in Kuemper.

Lightning maintain one-goal lead through second period

Valeri Nichushkin continues to take a star turn during the Cup Final. He got the Avs on the board after Andrei Vasilevskiy was handcuffed a bit by a Cale Makar shot:

[Officiating under the microscope]

Did Jon Cooper’s comments and the outrage about “too many men on the ice” benefit the Lightning at times over the Avalanche in Game 5? Might be a stretch.

Whatever the explanation was, it was strange to see Pat Maroon take down Nathan MacKinnon, with no penalties involved.

At least some calls were being made, compared to “The Wild West” mentality for much of Game 4.

During a 4-on-3 power play, Nikita Kucherov beat Kuemper to make it 2-1.

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final: another exciting finish

As Game 5 went along, we saw the Avalanche assert themselves more against the Lightning.

In the second period, the Avs generated a 14-8 shots on goal advantage. (In the first, Colorado only had a 12-11 edge.)

To start the third, Colorado really pushed, and eventually got rewarded. Makar sent a puck toward the net, and Nichushkin created havoc on the 2-2 goal. Makar may end up being credited, but both players were involved:

There were several stretches where the Avs looked on the verge of taking a lead. Between near-misses and nice Vasilevskiy saves, the score remained 2-2. Eventually, it was the Lightning who broke through.

Ondrej Palat found some open space in the slot, then finished a nice pass to stunningly giving Tampa Bay a fairly late 3-2 advantage:

As if scripted, the Lightning received a power-play opportunity after the Avalanche were whistled for “too many men on the ice” in Game 5. It happened late, too: 17:17 into the third.

The Avs killed the penalty, but lost precious time to try to tie things up. Tampa Bay held on, and the Stanley Cup Final moves on to Game 6.

COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 3-2)

Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3 – Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
Game 4 – Avalanche 3, Lightning 2 (OT)
Game 5 – Lightning 3, Avalanche 2
Game 6 – June 26: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)

* if necessary

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Lightning stay alive by beating Avalanche in tight Game 5 originally appeared on NBCSports.com