Lightning Cruise to Much-Needed Victory in Game 3

The Tampa Bay Lightning have officially made the Stanley Cup Final interesting.

After dropping both games in Denver, the Bolts returned home for Game 3 in the same position in which they found themselves in the Eastern Conference Final: in desperate need of a win.

Game 1 was tightly contested, but after a dominant performance in Game 2 by the Colorado Avalanche, it felt like the Lightning needed to do something big in the first game in Tampa. They did not disappoint.

It looked like the Avs might keep the momentum going when captain Gabriel Landeskog scored the first goal of the game. Tampa Bay bounced back quickly, though, with two goals in less than two minutes to take a 2-1 lead to the first intermission.

The Lightning picked up a much-needed win in Game 3.

The goals came quickly in period two, as an early goal to make it a 3-1 Lightning advantage was answered minutes later by Landeskog. That would be as close as the Avalanche would get.

Lightning captain Steven Stamkos restored the Bolts’ two-goal lead, matching the Colorado captain with two points in the game. Tampa added a pair of goals later in the period, the first of which chased Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper from the contest.

No goals were scored in the third period, so the Lightning took Game 3 by the score of 6-2. This wasn’t technically a must-win game for the defending champs, but going down 3-0 is tricky enough in general, and it would have been detrimental against this Colorado team.

To me, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was the biggest reason for this win. As was the case in the last round against the New York Rangers, the reigning Conn Smyth Trophy winner did not play like himself in the first two games. In Game 3, however, he was great.

Vasilevskiy made 37 saves on 39 shots and stopped all 30 pucks that he faced at even strength. No player has been more valuable to the Bolts in this postseason than their netminder, and they will lean on him for a repeat performance in Game 4.

The next meeting for these two teams will be on Wednesday, as the Lightning look to send the Stanley Cup Final back to Denver knotted up at two games apiece.