Lightning come out slow, trail Avalanche 3-1 after 1st period

DENVER, Colorado — The Tampa Bay Lightning hit the ice in Denver Wednesday night to take another step toward immortality and move one win closer to the three-pointer as Stanley Cup champions.

The puck dropped between Lightning and Avalanche just after 8:15 p.m. ET, and both teams immediately began groping each other as the first half began.

Between the pipes, Tampa Bay again had Andrei Vasilevskiy trying to stop the Avs while Colorado had Darcy Kuemper in goal. Both goalkeepers were able to make quick saves in the first five minutes of the early stages.

The action was slow to get going as teams had 10 faceoffs in the first five minutes.

Almost 15 minutes before the end of the first third, the Lightning went on the power play. But Colorado’s penalty-killing unit managed to keep Tampa off the scoreboard as both teams returned to full strength.

Then the avalanche started when left winger Gabriel Landeskog gave Colorado a 1-0 lead in the first period with 12 minutes remaining.

Less than two minutes later, Colorado was back on the scoreboard when right winger Valeri Nichushkin fired a shot right past Vasilevskiy to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.

As the clock ticked down in the first period, Tampa Bay looked slow as Colorado went around the Lightning.

But just over seven minutes from the end of the period, Lightning left winger Nicholas Paul snuck a shot just wide of Kuemper’s wide side, putting Tampa Bay on the board and cutting the lead to 2-1.

Colorado came back immediately and went on the power play with four minutes remaining in the first half. And then Lightning hit twice as Tampa Bay received another penalty and Colorado took a two-man advantage for 1:33.

The Avalanche used the two-man advantage and scored the third goal of the period for a 3-1 lead. The Avalanche’s Artturi Lekhonen scored the third goal.

Colorado had an additional 50 seconds of power play in the first half but failed to extend the lead before both teams were back to full strength.

In the final seconds of the first period, Tampa Bay was clearly the slower team on the ice, and the Avalanche took every opportunity they had to lead 3-1 into the first break.

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