Early scoring onslaught powers Colorado to victory

Quick hitters from Game 1 of the Avalanche OT win 4-3 against Tampa Bay on Wednesday night.

Clutch Kuemper

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar faced a difficult decision as he started Game 1: stick with the goaltender’s (Pavel Francouz) hot hand or go back to your trusted regular (Darcy Kuemper). Bednar chose Kuemper – who had fully recovered from an upper body injury against Edmonton – and rose to the challenge. Kümper misplayed a puck in the first period, which led to Nick Paul’s goal. In the second, he was also hit twice in just 48 seconds. But Kuemper stood tall, not allowing goals in the third period or in extra time. Kuemper held 20 out of 23 parades that evening.

Hot start

The Avalanche showed zero rust on Wednesday night after their lengthy break with a three-goal first leg (Gabe Landeskog, Val Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen). Strong starts have not been Colorado’s forte, however, as the team has finished first in just three of their last 10 playoff games en route to the Stanley Cup Finals. But the Avs wasted no time in Game 1. Lightning Stud goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed a trio of goals after netting just 15 Colorado shots. It was an ideal start for the home side, which included a successful power play chance (five to three).

Penalty Killer

The Lightning reached the Stanley Cup Finals in the NHL postseason in second place with 14 power play goals. Don’t tell that to the Avalanche. Colorado’s penalty-kill unit prevented Tampa Bay on all three extra-man chances in Game 1. That bodes particularly well against a Lightning team that was playing the regular season with 23.9 percent of their power play chances. Cale Makar, Devon Toews, Val Nichushkin and JT Compher were all particularly dominant on Wednesday night as they protected the net with a man at a disadvantage.

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