Avalanche go 2-0 up in Stanley Cup Final

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What emerged from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night wasn't their championship pedigree or vaunted ability to bounce back but frayed nerves and maybe a realisation that the Colorado Avalanche are coming swiftly for their NHL crown.

Outmuscled. Outhustled. Out-tussled.

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the two-time reigning Stanley Cup champions were thumped 7-0 by the Avalanche, losing not only Game 2 but their cool and their mojo in the process.

This marked just the second time in Vasilevskiy's 465-game NHL career that he allowed that many goals in a game.

Captain Steven Stamkos was hollering and angling for a fight with the Lightning down 3-0 in the first period. Corey Perry went to the penalty box at the end of the second with Tampa Bay trailing 5-0 after getting into a quarrel in the Colorado's J.T. Compher.

The teams got into a scrum with 4:22 left in the third period and the outcome long decided.

The Lightning had shrugged off their 4-3 overtime loss to the Avalanche in Game 1, insisting they'd bounce back behind their great goaltender.

Instead, the Lightning became just the third team ever to allow three or more first-period goals in the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final, joining the Minnesota North Stars in 1981 against the New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1936 against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Avalanche kept both their lead and their heads all night and now they're halfway to snaring Lord Stanley's Cup from the two-time reigning champs as the series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Monday night.

The Lightning's confidence in winning Game 2 and gaining control of the series was well-founded. They were the NHL's best bounce-back team while winning back-to-back titles and reaching a third consecutive Stanley Cup, going 18-1 after a playoff loss since the start of the first round in 2020. Vasilevskiy was in net for all of those games.

Make that now 18-2.

The Lightning have yet to beat the Avalanche this season, losing twice in the regular season in Denver, once in overtime and another time in a shootout.

If they don't fix their myriad issues quickly, they won't get the chance to return to Denver after Games 3 and 4 in Tampa.

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