2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final: Colorado Avalanche Tops Tampa Bay Lightning

The 21-year drought is over for Colorado

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Avalanche hoist Stanley Cup in series win over Lightning originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

And there is a new champion in the NHL.

The Colorado Avalanche buried the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 on Sunday to win the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final, ending Tampa Bay’s two-year streak of lifting the league’s most-prized trophy. 

Colorado came into the contest with a three-games-to-two series lead after failing to close out the Lightning at home in Game 5.

The Lightning kept the sky bright in the first period of Game 6 when Steven Stamkos opened the scoring. But the Avalanche found some attacking rhythm and kept storming down the ice in the second period to find an equalizer. They got the tying goal from Nathan MacKinnon early on while Artturi Lehkonen netted the go-ahead shot. 

Colorado entered the third period with a 9-1 record in this postseason when leading after two periods, and that dominant run extended to 10 with the win. Tampa Bay went about 10 minutes into the period without registering a shot and just couldn’t find the equalizer to force overtime. 

General manager Joe Sakic, who drafted MacKinnon with the first pick in 2013, said this means everything to his first-line center.

“He’s one of the best players in the world, and he wanted this more than anyone, and you can tell,” Sakic said. “He’s open about it how much he wants to win, and I was really proud for him. He’s been tremendous right from when he started as a rookie. He’s gotten better and better every year. A dynamic player, and you saw it today. He checked as hard as when he had the puck.”

The win marks Colorado’s third NHL Stanley Cup trophy in franchise history. The team’s previous successes in the final came in the 1995-96 and 2000-01 seasons. 

“It’s crazy,” MacKinnon said after the game. “Can’t wait to hug my family. It’s hard to describe. I didn’t really know what it would be like to actually win it, just seeing all these warriors battle, it just feels unbelievable."

Meanwhile, the Lightening didn’t relinquish their grip on the Stanley Cup without a fight. But in the end, another superb performance by the star goaltender wasn’t enough to keep the Colorado Avalanche from wresting the title away.

“It definitely stings," defenseman Ryan MacDonagh said.

After winning two consecutive trophies, Tampa fell short Sunday of joining the exclusive list of teams that have three-peats. The team won its first of three championships in the 2003-04 season.

Defenseman Cale Makar won the Conn Smythe Trophy after a 29-point postseason.

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