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Avalanche Blow Another Lead, Fall in Shootout to Lightning

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The Colorado Avalanche continue to learn the hard way that it’s not how you start, but how you finish.

And right now, they’re having a hard time finishing games.

Despite entering the third period with a lead, the Avalanche fell 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, this time in a shootout. They peppered Andrei Vasilevsky with 46 shots, but couldn’t find a way to pull away from the veteran Lightning squad.

Artturi Lehkonen, Nathan MacKinnon, and Denis Malgin scored the goals for the Avalanche.

Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli, and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for Tampa Bay in regulation. Steven Stamkos scored the lone goal in the shootout.

The Avalanche needed a hot start after how the game last week in Tampa went. And they at least got that.

On the second shift of the game, the top line went to work. After MacKinnon was stopped by Vasilevsky, he tracked down his rebound in the corner, and hit Lehkonen in the high slot. Valeri Nichushkin provided the screen in front, and Lehkonen beat Vasilevsky glove side to give the Avalanche the early lead.

The rest of the period didn’t see any more goals, but did see lots of action. The Avalanche registered 17 shots of their own, while the Lightning put 15 on Georgiev. He was up to the task, stopping them all, giving the Avalanche the lead going into the first intermission.

The second period provided more entertainment.

A little over six minutes into the second, MacKinnon went to work. After stick handling through defenders, he dropped the puck to Bowen Byram. The young defenseman swung wide around defenders and hit MacKinnon backdoor for a tap-in goal, giving the Avalanche a two goal lead.

The Lightning got one back at the 13:09 mark. A J.T. Compher shot went wide right out of the zone, straight to Brayden Point. Point burst into the Avalanche zone and hit a streaking Kucherov on the backdoor to beat finally beat Georgiev, cutting the lead back to one.

There would be fisticuffs at the end of the period. Alex Killorn took a goaltender interference penalty after crashing into Georgiev, and Compher took exception to it. The two went at it in the corner, and were both given five minute fighting majors.

The Avalanche didn’t capitalize on the powerplay, and carried that one goal lead into the third.

That lead didn’t last long.

Just 26 seconds into the period, Cirelli tied things up, finding a soft spot in the defense and sending a fluttering shot past Georgiev.

It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to respond, though. 97 seconds, to be exact.

Denis Malgin scored his first as a member of the Avalanche, capitalizing on a Lightning turnover. After picking up a loose pick, he carried the puck into the high slot and beat Vasilevsky blocker side.

But this third period was one of twists and turns, and those twists and turns kept coming.

At 4:10 of the period, the Lightning tied it up again. A soft clear up the middle by MacDermid was too far in front of Compher for him to get good wood on it for a clear. Instead, it went right to the Lightning. Namestnikov got past MacDermid, and stickhandled around Byram and Georgiev to tie the game at three.

In just 4:10, there had been as many goals in the third period as there were in the first 40 minutes.

The teams exchanged chances late in the third, but both goaltenders were strong. On a late breakaway, Vasilevsky stoned Compher, ensuring the game got to overtime.

In overtime, very little happened. The flow that was present in regulation completely disappeared, and only one shot hit the net for either team. That meant the game had to be decided in a shootout.

And in the shootout, only one player found the back of the net. Steven Stamkos, the first shooter for Tampa Bay, beat Georgiev high blocker to put the pressure on the Avalanche shooters.

Those shooters were not able to solve Vasilevsky, and the Lightning left Ball Arena with a 4-3 overtime victory. Another disappointing loss for the Avalanche, and another loss where they blew a lead in the third period.

Although the loss was disappointing, the Avalanche did secure a point. That point ties them with Minnesota for third in the Central, and keeps them in a playoff spot.

The same Minnesota team they will face-off against Wednesday night. The incredibly important game starts at 7:30 PM MST.

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Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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