The Tampa Bay Lightning would have been back-to-back-to-back champions … if not for the tenacious 2021-2022 Colorado Avalanche, winners of the Stanley Cup after a six-game battle to the top.
Colorado won Game 6, 2-1, to close out the series at 4-2.
After a valiant two-game swing from the Lightning at home in Games 3 and 4, they were unable to repeat their at-home advantage after getting retired for the year at Amalie on Sunday.
Goals from Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen propelled the Avs to their first championship since 2001, and third Cup in franchise history.
The Lightning scored first in Game 6 to draw intrigue on whether the series could get pushed to seven, considering the Avs got off to a 2-0 series start — keeping up an offense too quick for even the great Andrei Vasilevskiy to get a hold on.
Cale Makar walked away with the Conn Smythe Trophy. Colorado’s defenseman had a stellar postseason, tallying eight goals and 21 assists this Stanley Cup postseason.
“I’m just so happy for all these guys, man… Everybody that’s been here for so long and worked so hard, to finally have that pay off with all the success we’ve had the past few years, it’s so amazing for them,” Makar said after the championship win.
At the 12:28 mark in the second period, Lehkonen slapped the go-ahead score. Even with plenty of time left, momentum sided with Colorado after their second score.
Tampa Bay appeared visibly frustrated by the second period, bashing Avs players against the glass, throwing some extra English where permitted.
Jon Cooper and the Lightning thought they were on the cusp of dynasty talks with their near three-peat.
They’ll skate their way back to TB with 2020 and 2021 to fall back on until the puck drops next season.