NHL

Stanley Cup: 'It's a series now' – Stamkos says Lightning are up for the fight after Game 3 win

By Sports Desk June 21, 2022

The Tampa Bay Lightning have injected life into the Stanley Cup Final with a crucial 6-2 home win against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 3.

A Lightning loss would have given the Avalanche a near-insurmountable 3-0 series lead, but by getting the job done on their home ice, the reigning back-to-back Stanley Cup champions pegged the margin back to 2-1, with Game 4 also at home.

After a crushing 7-0 loss to the Avalanche in Game 2, the visitors threatened to put the series to bed by opening the scoring through a Gabriel Landeskog goal eight minutes in, but the Lightning would respond this time.

Anthony Cirelli was the man to find the back of the net and tie the game later in the first period, before Ondrej Palat got on the end of a Steven Stamkos pass to give the Lightning a 2-1 lead heading into the first break.

The two sides traded early goals as Nicholas Paul put the home side up 3-1 briefly, before Landeskog's second kept it a one-goal game – and then the Lightning took over.

A seven-minute barrage saw Tampa Bay add three quick goals to Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon and Corey Perry, giving the hosts plenty of breathing room and allowing them to turn the third period into a scoreless grind to come out with the victory.

Speaking to ESPN after the win, Stamkos said his side has too much self-belief to listen to those who had them written off after a couple of tough games away from home.

"They can say whatever we want – we know what we have in our dressing room," he said.

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

"It's a tough place to play in Colorado – they have a great team, they come out strong, they come out fast. But like I said the other day, we can do that on home ice too.

"It's a series now, and we've got some work to do between now and next game, but we've got another game at home and we'll look to continue this game that we played tonight."

Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was not willing to overreact to the loss – his side's first road defeat of the playoffs so far, entering the contest 7-0 away from home.

"We're going to lose games," he said. "We've won every game on the road, so I guess we were kind of due for a tough night.

"It wasn't all bad – I thought we did a lot of good things. We controlled the play a lot, but every mistake we made they capitalised on, and that's how they play.

"They're a really, really good team, obviously – I don't have to say that – so we've got to be sharper."

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