Lightning thrash Avalanche to bounce back in Stanley Cup

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The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning roared back into Stanley Cup final contention on Monday, battering the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 to claim their first win of the series.

Humiliated 7-0 by the Avalanche on Saturday to go 2-0 down in the best-of-seven finals, the Lightning signalled their determination to go down fighting with a battling performance in game three in Florida.

"People can say whatever we want but we know what we have in our dressing room," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said after the win.

"We knew coming back home we'd play well in front of our fans and that was a great comeback tonight.

"Colorado is a tough place to play -- they come out strong and come out fast. But we can do that too. We've got a series now."

Another clinical Colorado display appeared to be on the cards in the first period as the Avs peppered the Tampa Bay goal only to be denied by some superb saves from Bolts goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Colorado looked to have taken an early lead when right wing Valeri Nichushkin finally beat Vasilevskiy with a deft flicked shot, only for the goal to be chalked off for offside after a lengthy review.

But Colorado did finally take the lead through skipper Gabriel Landeskog after eight minutes, the Swedish winger poking in a rebound from close range.

That was cue for a spirited comeback by Tampa Bay, however, with Anthony Cirelli scoring the equalizer before Ondrej Palat played a clever give-and-go with Stamkos and rifled home to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead.

Nicholas Paul then slapped in a first-time shot at the start of the second period to put the Lightning 3-1 up and although Landeskog pulled one back for Colorado on a power play soon afterwards, Tampa Bay were only just warming up.

A burst of scoring with goals from Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry left the home side 6-2 ahead going into the final period.

Colorado's frustration boiled over late in the final period with the Avs' Logan O'Connor trading punches with Tampa Bay's Ross Colton in a protracted brawl with just over two minutes remaining.

Game four in the series takes place in Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

rcw/dh