How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (2023)

The Colorado Avalanche hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night at Ball Arena, with the Avs 60 minutes away from hoisting the Cup for the first time in 21 years. The wait, however, will last at least two days longer after the Avs fell 3-2 to the Lightning.

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Postgame analysis

Tampa Bay tops Avs 3-2 to extend Stanley Cup

jelly:Avalanche’s victory parade takes unwelcome 1,858-mile detourafter 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay

Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar on costly tripping penalty:“I’m not here to talk about the refs.”

Avalanche-Lightning Game 5 Quick Hits:Valeri Nichushkin ties franchise record with four goals over Stanley Cup Final

Avalanche 3 stars:Lightning’s Ondrej Palat spoils another big Valeri Nichushkin night for Avalanche in Game 5

Lightning’sOndrej Palat buries Avalanchein Game 5 with late goal

Gathered for revelry,Avalanche fans leave downtown watch parties dejectedafter loss

Third period highlights

Back to Tampa Bay (9:01 p.m.):A crowd ready to erupt. The Stanley Cup in the building. For nothing. We’re headed back to Tampa Bay after plenty of Lightning grit, and a heck of a lot of penalty luck. And, yes, we’re talking about that too-man-men-on-the-ice whistle that was pretty much called by Jon Cooper himself. Final score: Lightning 3, Avalanche 2. — Matt Schubert


— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning)June 25, 2022

Down, again. (8:45 p.m.):A big playoff goal for the Lightning from, of course, Ondrej Palat (his 11th of the postseason). Coming off a patient offensive sequence, Palat received a perfect centering feed with an unmolested look on goal and rocketed it hard enough to trickle through the five hole of Avs goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Lightning 3, Avalanche 2. We’ve got four minutes to go. — Matt Schubert

Tied back up 🤝#GoAvsGo

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche)June 25, 2022

All even (8:22 p.m.):Good things happen when you put the puck on net. Especially when it’s Cale Makar doing it. The Avs defenseman got another playoff goal after Andrei Vasilevskiy was unable to corral his snapshot, and the rebound deflected off a Lightning defenseman up front and through the legs of Vasy. Call it lucky if you want. But also call it 2-2 early on in the third period. Could comeback win No. 10 of these playoffs be coming soon for the Avs? — Matt Schubert

Second intermission analysis

Mark Kiszla, sports columnist:While you might rightfully condemn Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper for being a whiner, his too-many-men-on-the-ice tantrum after Game 4 was brilliant gamesmanship that seems to have clearly influenced the zebras tonight. The surprise is Tampa Bay isn’t leading by more than 2-1 with all the calls going the Lightning’s way.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist:I thought UFC Fight Night was Saturday, but Pat Maroon’s takedown of Nathan MacKinnon in the neutral zone got things off to an early start. Speaking of MacKinnon, this team needs ya, baby. Meanwhile, No. 29’s getting tugged, pulled, stalled or harassed pretty much every time down the ice — without much in the way of calls from the zebras. Remember how we got warned that Tampa coach Jon Cooper’s whining after Game 4 was kinda/sorta/really about working the refs for the games to come? Apparently, politicking pays off. So far.

Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter:The Avalanche has 26 shots on goal, but is it me or is it passing too much and thus giving up too many chances? The Avs’ goal showed good things can happen when a puck is thrown on net — Cale Makar’s slap shot was saved, but the rebound was tapped home by Val Nichushkin for the 1-1 tie. But the Lightning power play finally woke up and made it 2-1 on Nikita Kucherov’s goal.

Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter:What an incredible series for Val Nichushkin. His four goals over the Stanley Cup Final are tied for a franchise record with Joe Sakic (2001) and Alex Tanguay (2001). It’s more incredible when you consider that Nichushkin had four goals over his 42 career postseason games prior to the 2022 playoffs.

Mike Chambers, Avalanche beat writer:At 4-on-4 in the Stanley Cup Final, do you really want to make that call on Cale Makar when he was simply trying to get his stick in front of him? He wasn’t going to get the puck behind Colorado’s net first. The Lightning’s Ondrej Palat was going to out-race Makar for the puck. But Makar’s stick caught Palat between the leg and the officials called a trip, leading to Tampa’s 4-on-3 power-play goal. Anyway, the Avs trail 2-1 going into the third — just like in Game 4. They’ve had glorious chances. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has been great. The Avs’ Mikko Rantanen (zero shots) needs to get going.

Second period highlights

Sneaky, sneaky 🤫

— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning)June 25, 2022

Lightning strike back (7:33 p.m.):You can only ask the Avalanche penalty kill to do so much. Forced into a 4-on-3 situation after a controversial penalty was whistled against Cale Makar, the Avs PK finally broke on a one-timer snipe from Nikita Kucherov from the point. Lightning 2, Avalanche 1 with 10:30 left in the second period. And things are about to get real tense inside Ball Arena. — Matt Schubert

(7:30 p.m.)Nick Paul was furious about that icing that led to TB’s D-zone faceoff. Paul thought he beat the Avs’ closest guy to the circle dot. But he was probably more mad at the ensuing play. MacKinnon won the draw back to Makar, who put it on net. Nichushkin cashed in on rebound. It’s 1-1 and this place is rockin’. — Mike Chambers

Alllllll aboard 😎#GoAvsGo

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche)June 25, 2022

Big Val, big goal (7:26 p.m.):Valeri Nichushkin was in the right place at the right time to slap home a rebound after Andrei Vasilevskiy was unable to corral Cale Makar’s awkward shot off a face-off. The Lightning were out of sorts going into the scoring opportunity, upset over an icing call that was clearly correct. The Avs won the faceoff, Makar put a fluttering shot on goal and Big Val took care of the rest. Avalanche 1, Lightning 1 with 13:13 now left in the second period. — Matt Schubert

First intermission analysis

Mark Kiszla, sports columnist:You expected the two-time defending champs to go down without a fight? You were ready to declare Avalanche Darcy Kuemper a Stanley Cup Final legend? Silly you. Down 1-0 on soft goal, Colorado can win Cup tonight. But it would be silly to think it’s going to be easy.

Mike Chambers, Avalanche beat reporter:The Avalanche had a good first period but trail 1-0 after 20 minutes. Shots 13-11 COL. Nathan MacKinnon beat goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy five-hole late in the frame but the angle was off and it went wide of the cage. Colorado was 2-for-2 on the PK and 0-of-1 with the man-advantage. The Lightning’s power play is now 1-for-13 in the series. That’s lights out PK work for the Avs. The score has the Bolts on top but Colorado will continue to push hard to get it even, and after that, forge ahead.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist:Can you call a goal “soft” if it’s coming in at 95 miles per hour? Jan Rutta’s rocket shot appeared to ricochet off of Darcy Kuemper’s glove and left wrist and trickle past for Tampa’s first goal of the night, the epitome of a bad bounce. In a game of inches, Nathan MacKinnon buries that breakaway goal opportunity 98 times out of 100, which isn’t exactly the BEST sign, is it?

Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter:It was a soft goal, a shot Kuemper should stop every day of the week and it did take some air out of the atmosphere. The good news for the Avs is that Tampa Bay’s power play is still a mess (now 1 for 16 in the series). Late in the period, Nathan MacKinnon had a breakaway but skated his way into a bad-angle shot that was easily saved.

Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter:That surgically repaired right thumb for Nazem Kadri doesn’t seem to be a lingering issue. He leads the Avalanche with three shots on goal despite serving a two-minute penalty for hooking in the first period. Kadri continues to show why he’s the heartbeat of this team.

First period highlights

*GASP* 🤭

— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning)June 25, 2022

Lightning strike first (6:51 p.m.):After another strong start in goal for Darcy Kuemper, the Avs goaltender got caught napping with Jan Rutta smashing a 95 mph slapshot that squeezed through a hole between his glove and left hip. Some might call that a soft goal. They would be right. Lightning 1, Avalanche 0 w/ less than four minutes left in the first period. — Matt Schubert

PK does the job … again (6:39 p.m.):The Avs’ penalty kill is so good right now it’s generating better shots than the Lightning power play. — Matt Schubert

First TV timeout (6:31 p.m.) :Avs killed off J.T. Compher’s high-sticking minor and shots are 3-3. Tampa Bay wasn’t dangerous on the power play. That’s a great kill because the power plays won’t be lopsided in this game and the Avs will get theirs. Colorado is back to a top-six forward group that it’s had most of the postseason. MacKinnon between Landeskog and Nichushkin and wingers Lehkonen and Rantanen with Kadri. In Game 4, the Avs mixed those guys up at the beginning. — Mike Chambers

Penalty killers (6:27 p.m.):Following a familiar theme from throughout the series, the Avs penalty kill had little trouble taking care of a Tampa Bay power play, allowing just one shot on goal. Colorado special teams have been magnificent throughout the Cup Final, and a major reason why the Avs are so close to lifting the Cup. The Avs penalty kill is now 14 for 15 in the Cup Final. — Matt Schubert

After that intro from ESPN, here's the story on where all the hard work began for Cale Makar.


— Matt Schubert (@MattDSchubert)June 25, 2022

Game 5 predictions

Mike Chambers, Avalanche beat writer:I have the Avs winning their first playoff series at home since 2008 and hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001. It’s cold in here. It wasn’t cold at Amalie Arena, where the ice deteriorated quickly from the humidity. The Ball Arena ice is in much better shape and Colorado has the fastest team in hockey. The Avs win big in what will be a chippy game early. Let’s say 4-1.

Ryan O’Halloran, sports reporter:Avalanche 4, Lightning 1. Tampa Bay lost its first Cup-clinching games the last two years against Dallas and Montreal, so the Lightning will play hard tonight. But it blew its chance at this series in Game 4 when it couldn’t hold 1-0 and 2-1 leads and then was 10 steps slower than the Avs in overtime. Gabe Landeskog, you have an appointment with commissioner Gary Bettman to receive the Stanley Cup in a few hours.

Mark Kiszla, sports columnist: Lightning 4, Avalanche 2. If nothing is harder in North American team sports than winning the Stanley Cup, nothing is harder in the NHL playoffs than winning Game No. 16 to hoist the trophy. Of course, I could be wrong. In fact, I’ve predicted every single individual game of this series incorrectly. You can thank me during the postgame celebration, Avalanche fans.

Sean Keeler, sports columnist: Avalanche 4, Tampa Bay 3, OT. Big Val Nichushkin gets the Ball Arena crowd rocking with another first-period goal. Gabe Landeskog’s scrappy tip past Andrei Vasilevskiy in overtime ends it late, sending Denver into a party mode that’s been decades in the making.

Kyle Fredrickson, sports reporter:Avalanche 2, Lightning 1. Avs defenseman Cale Makar cements his forever status as a Colorado sports legend with the go-ahead goal in the third period. Credit Darcy Kuemper with a stellar performance in net holding Tampa Bay to one goal.

Pregame updates

Seen and heard (6:06 p.m.)Some 40 minutes before the puck drop, spotted a pedicab driver deliver his load to Chopper Circle, then dismount quickly for a quick stretch of the legs. “How much busier are you tonight compared to Games 1 and 2?” I asked. He smiled. “A million times more. Easily.” His rate? $30, one-way, to or from, Larimer Square. Same charge as last week. — Sean Keeler

Avalanche-Lightning Game 5

— Kyle Fredrickson (@kylefredrickson)June 25, 2022

(5:44 p.m.)Darcy Kuemper led Colorado out for warmup and winger Andre Burakovsky (hand/wrist) is not skating. So it appears the Avs will go with the same lineup from Game 4. Line chart forthcoming. — Mike Chambers

“This is legendary.” (5:30 p.m.):Crowds outside Ball Arena began to grow with about an hour until puck drop despite light rain falling in Denver. AJ Endres, a 36-year-old Northern Colorado resident in a Gabe Landeskog jersey, walked inside the doors carrying a homemade Stanley Cup.

“I’m hoping that they’ll bring home the real thing tonight,” Endres said.

The makeshift trophy stands about three feet tall and is made from an empty five-gallon water jug, a few cheap party bowls, a handful of screws and silver spray paint. Endres pasted on the years 1995-96, 2000-01 and 2021-22 (with a question mark). Plus an Avalanche sticker for extra style points.

“This is legendary,” Endres said. “I am beyond excited. I’ve been jittery and nervous all day. I can’t wait to get in there and see what happens tonight. I play hockey and I’ve been a fan of the Avalanche since they moved here back in ’95. Lived through both of our Cups back in the day. Twenty-one years is a long time.”— Kyle Fredrickson

Joe Sakic sighting (5:24 p.m.). I was on the phone with my son outside the press-box elevators when one of them opened and Super Joe was inside. His stop wasn’t on that floor but we waved at each other and the door closed. That brought me back to 21 years ago. I covered Game 7 of the SCF behind seats on the main concourse at what then was called the Pepsi Center. I was like the third or fourth reporter working that night and I was moved to the auxiliary area. It was a great spot! Memories of the final seconds of the third period, the sensational environment and Super Joe accepting the Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman and immediately handing it off to Ray Bourque was an unreal experience. Will Super Joe hoist the Cup for the third time tonight? —Mike Chambers

Championship duds (5:14 p.m.): Pictures of dudes in suits, because we know what the people want. —Matt Schubert

Beauty legends.#GoAvsGo

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche)June 24, 2022

Few teams can relate to Avalanche’s one-win-from-Cup situation, but the Lightning can

How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (1)

Few teams can relate to the situation presented to the Avalanche on Friday night, needing to grind out one more win to hoist the Stanley Cup.

The Lightning can.

And few coaches can relate to the situation the Avs’ Jared Bednar is in, needing to construct one more game plan to see his players celebrating on the ice.

Jon Cooper can. —Ryan O’Halloran

Read more from Ryan O’Halloran.

Avalanche Game 5: Three key forwards skip morning skate

How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (2)

Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri and Gabe Landeskog did not participate in Friday’s morning skate ahead of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. But Avs coach Jared Bednar said they were each taking maintenance — meaning they are preparing in other ways and should be in the lineup against the Tampa Bay Lightning.—Mike Chambers

Read more from Mike Chambers.

Stanley Cup Finals, Game 5: Must reads

Analysis: Darcy Kuemper’s bounce-back effort helps put team one win from Stanley Cup

Darcy Kuemper, stopper of Tampa Bay Lightning shots.

And Darcy Kuemper, offensive catalyst?

After he stopped 37 shots in Wednesday’s Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final, Kuemper received the secondary assist on Nazem Kadri’s overtime goal, capping his night of redemption.—Ryan O’Halloran

Read more from Ryan O’Halloran.

Keeler: Nathan MacKinnon, Andrew Cogliano, Avalanche made their own “luck” vs. Tampa Bay in Game 4. No matter what Lightning fans say.

How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (3)


Luck had nothing to do with Nathan MacKinnon getting himself enough space to park like a Rolls Royce on Andrei Vasilevskiy’s stick side, the heel to our deified Tampa Bay goalie’s Achilles.


Luck was on a coffee break when Andrew Cogliano, 177 pounds of pure guts, 5-foot-10 with 6-5 spunk, refused to budge from the crease, even though the Avalanche forward had Lightning defender Jan Rutta — all 6-2, 211 pounds of him — draped all over his back.—Sean Keeler

Read more from Sean Keeler.

Stanley Cup Final Game 5 debate: Which Avalanche player should win the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP?

How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (4)

Who should be named the playoff MVP if the Avalanche happen to win Friday night? With so many good options, this is no easy choice.Read more from The Post’s sports staff.

More Stanley Cup Final coverage

  • Avalanche-Lightning Game 5 betting guide: Odds breakdown, Conn Smythe favorites and props bets to consider
  • Avalanche-Lightning Game 5 secondary ticket marketbooming with chance to win Stanley Cup
  • Stanley Cup Final, Game 5:Five things to watch when Avalanche faces Lightning
  • Avalanche coach Jared Bednar on Lightning’s gripe with Game 4 winning goal: “I don’t see it as a break, a non-break, I think it’s actually nothing
  • With Denver on the brink of first pro championship since 2016,police ask Avalanche fans not to celebrate too hard

How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (5)

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How it happened: Colorado Avalanche falls to Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of Stanley Cup Final (6)


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