Breaking down the Avalanche's OT escape, Denver celebrates and takeaways from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final

by 24USATVJune 16, 2022, 5:01 a.m. 18
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Andre Burakovsky wastes no time in overtime to net a winner for Colorado in Game 1 against Tampa Bay. (0:54)

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche met Wednesday night for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final and it was a thrilling affair, with the Avalanche winning 4-3 in overtime.

The Lightning have their sights set on a three-peat, which would be the first time a team has won three consecutive NHL championships since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980 to '83. Tampa Bay showed resolve in the Eastern Conference finals, rebounding from a 0-2 hole against the New York Rangers to win the series in six games. The Lightning had to show more perseverance in Game 1 as they faced a 3-1 deficit after the first period.

Despite Colorado's fast start, Tampa Bay found its groove as the game progressed. It tied the game in the second by scoring two goals in 48 seconds. The third period went by without any goals, but shortly into overtime Andre Burakovsky scored the game-winner for the Avalanche. It's the first career playoff overtime goal for Burakovsky, and very good news for Colorado: Game 1 overtime winners are 14-4 in Stanley Cup history.

Ball Arena was electrifying all night thanks to the fans' raucous energy. From stars in the stands to the fast-paced action, spectators had a lot to take in as the Stanley Cup got underway.

Here are some of the best sights and sounds from Game 1.

Colorado is a resilient group. No matter what's come at them in the postseason, the Avalanche have found a way.

In Game 1, they blew a two-goal deficit to the two-time Stanley Cup champions but refused to be intimidated. Colorado stuck to their game plan, got excellent performances out of their special teams and once again the Avalanche's depth shone through with Andre Burakovsky's overtime game-winner.

It wasn't a star-driven win. The Avalanche were a sum of their parts in the right way.

Tampa Bay will be looking for payback in a big way come Game 2. -- Kristen Shilton

As the Avalanche closed it out in overtime, the Rockies and Broncos celebrated alongside them.

Game 1 goes to the Avs!

That was fast! Just a minute and a half into overtime, Andre Burakovsky thrilled Avalanche fans with a game-winning goal.

Say it ain't so

In the lead-up to overtime, Avalanche fans sang along to Blink-182's hit "All the Small Things."

For much of it, in fact, he's been among Colorado's best players.

The winger is an underrated player who's been elevated to a top-line role since the Avalanche lost Nazem Kadri to a broken thumb in the Western Conference finals.

Playing with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon clearly agrees with Nichushkin. He was buzzing in the offensive zone through the first period, ringing one shot off the post and then scoring Colorado's second goal of the game. But his second period was impressive, too. He was strong defensively and was Colorado's best forechecker against Tampa's cycle game. Nichushkin was digging out pucks, breaking up pass attempts, and even broke through Tampa's defense to put a shot right on Andrei Vasilevskiy, which nearly beat the netminder again.

Nichushkin's lack of finish there segued into a pair of goals for Tampa. But the way he is playing, there could easily be more opportunities to come. Colorado has relied heavily on its depth throughout the postseason and Nichushkin is a big part of that. He entered Game 1 with five goals and nine points in 14 games. Coach Jared Bednar trusts him in all situations. And he's only gotten better through the players.

Keep an eye on Nichushkin in the third. He's set himself up for a strong finish.

-- Kristen Shilton

One of the reasons the Lightning have been on this dynastic run is their ability to adapt to the needs of the game. You want to play a defensive grind-it-out playoff battle? Fine, they'll win 1-0. You want to play a bananas firewagon offensive game with six goals scored in the first 35 minutes? Bring it.

Down 3-1 in the second period, the Lightning were still treading water. They earned another power play on a Colorado too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty. They should have declined it, based on their numbing execution for the following two minutes.

But then Nikita Kucherov did what he's done all postseason, which is create a goal out of thin air. He and Ondrej Palat entered the Avalanche zone on a 2-on-2. Kucherov slithered through the defense and found Palat on the doorstep to cut the lead to 3-2.

Just like the Avalanche scored in quick succession in the first period, the Lightning added a goal just 48 seconds later. Mikhail Sergachev airmailed a shot that found its way through Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper, who stared at the big screen in disbelief as the score flipped to 3-3.

We've got ourselves a hockey game. Maybe not the one the Lightning wanted to play, but one they also know they can win. -- Greg Wyshynski

The second period was much quieter than the first until Ondrej Palat and Mikhail Sergachev tied it up with back-to-back goals. Two goals in 48 seconds is the fastest consecutive scores in a Stanley Cup Final game in Lightning history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The previous mark was 54 seconds in Game 2 of their 2020 series against the Dallas Stars. Also involved in that goal sequence: Ondrej Palat.

It's not always a power play that breeds momentum. Sometimes it's a penalty kill.

At least, that was the case for Colorado in the first period.

Early in the frame, Josh Manson was called for holding the stick. The Lightning's top power-play unit took the ice -- and it now included Brayden Point for the first time in over a month.

Tampa Bay came at Colorado hard. Sharp stops from Darcy Kuemper, a key block from Jack Johnson and a few too many puck touches by the Lightning held them off the scoresheet.

Manson roared back out of the box. And the Avalanche got rolling.

Just 40 seconds after that kill, Gabriel Landeskog made it a 1-0 game. The captain who didn't know if Colorado would ever recover from a 30th place finish in 2016-17 had scored in the Cup Final.

In another 1:36, it was 2-0. Valeri Nichushkin, who hit a post earlier in the period, beat Andrei Vasilevskiy for real this time.

It took less than two minutes for Colorado to take control of the game and put the two-time champs on their heels. Even a goal by Nick Paul didn't break the Avalanche's confidence through the rest of a first period they (mostly) dominated, as they responded with a power-play score just five minutes later. -- Kristen Shilton

That was a demoralizing first period for the Lightning because three things they figured they could count on in the Stanley Cup Final malfunctioned.

Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was leakier than an old roof, allowing a Mikko Rantanen puck to squirt through his pads for Gabriel Landeskog to lay it up for the 1-0 lead. Just 1:37 later, Vasilevskiy did something he hadn't done before in the playoffs, according to Sportlogiq: He allowed a five-hole goal, this time from Val Nichushkin.

The third Colorado goal came on a 5-on-3 power play, another malfunction for the Lightning. In the Eastern Conference finals, they faced a New York Rangers power play that was statistically the best in the playoffs. Their solution was to stay out of the penalty box. Tonight, they handed the second-best power play team in the playoffs a two-man advantage. Big mistake, and Rantaten made it 3-1.

The third malfunction was on the Lightning's own power play. They whipped the puck around on the power play -- with Brayden Point, who hadn't played since May 14, looking like he hadn't missed a beat -- but couldn't convert despite a bunch of good looks.

It's fitting that the goal that got them back into Game 1 was scored on a gaffe. Forward Nick Paul came in on Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper on a breakaway. He fumbled the puck and then tapped in his turnover. It was the only happy accident in the first period for Tampa Bay. -- Greg Wyshynski

Back-to-back penalties gave the Avalanche a 5-on-3 situation ... and it ended in another goal.

There's a reason the Lightning are going for a three-peat, as they wasted no time cutting the Avalanche's lead in half with a goal from Nicholas Paul.

The Avalanche had support from Denver Nuggets players Monte Morris and Davon Reed.

Seconds after the Avalanche weathered a Tampa Bay power play, Gabriel Landeskog scored the first goal of the Stanley Cup Final, with an assist by Bowen Byram and Mikko Rantanen.

Not long after that, Valeri Nichushkin scored a second one, assisted by Nathan MacKinnon off a steal. Colorado is 6-1 when scoring first this postseason, and the Lightning never trailed by two goals at any point in last year's Stanley Cup win.

Fans at the Avalanche watch party were loving it.

Colorado fans had Ball Arena rocking with their "let's go Lanche" chant.

Business casual is always a good outfit choice, and players from both teams arrived at Ball Arena rocking fresh suits.

The Avalanche and Lightning unveiled their uniforms for Game 1, which had the Stanley Cup logo patch front and center.

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