The reigning Stanley Cup champions might have been on the ropes. But the Tampa Bay Lightning, winners of consecutive titles, returned home and cut their two-game deficit down to one, defeating the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 in Monday's Game 3.
It wasn't just the two-game deficit in the Stanley Cup Final that had Lightning fans concerned; it's how the Avalanche had won. Colorado jumped out to early leads in both games and, in Game 2, absolutely dominated Tampa Bay. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, one of the best postseason goalies in NHL history, was blitzed for seven goals on Saturday.
But on Monday, it was Colorado's goaltending feeling the pressure. Darcy Kuemper was pulled when Tampa Bay took a 5-2 lead past the halfway point of the second period.
Here's what went down as the Lightning got it done back on their home ice in Game 3.
The Avalanche hadn't lost since May 25 before falling 6-2 on Monday. They hadn't lost in the postseason by that large of a margin. Kuemper was pulled, putting a cloud over their goaltending. All that depth scoring dried up. It was all bad.
Tampa Bay was a force. It should have been an elating victory -- except the Lightning lost Nicholas Paul and Nikita Kucherov to apparent injuries in the process. Kucherov exited late in the third after getting tied up with Devon Toews along the boards. Paul left in the second period, right after scoring a goal.
It was the first road loss Colorado had suffered in the playoffs, but the Avs still lead the series 2-1. Tampa Bay remains perfect at home in the postseason. What does that foreshadow for Game 4 on Wednesday? Stay tuned. -- Kristen Shilton