9:10 p.m. ET
It was quite a first period. We had an even goal, two power play goals – one a highlight reel goal – one disallowed goal and plenty of action at each end. And for the first time in the final, the Lightning lead 2-1 after 20 minutes.
Lightning striker and NHL.com blogger Nicholas Paul appeared to have injured himself late in the period, so we’ll be keeping an eye on him and what that might mean for Tampa Bay, which is already without it Brayden point.
If you’re the Lightning, you have to be content with that. They look a lot quicker tonight and can keep up with Avalanche a lot better than they did in Game 2. However, they were a bit lax in their own end and the Avalanche almost scored at the end of the third.
The Avalanche overtook the Lightning 14-12 and this one is clearly far from decided.
We will be back for the second period.
9 p.m. ET
The Lightning are starting to look like the Lightning again. Ondrej Palat just scored a nice give-and-go at 2:54 p.m Steven Stamko.
We said before the game that they need to get better shots Darcy Kumper, and you have. They have 12 shots on target and two went in. This place bounces, and for the first time in the finals, the Avalanche appear to be hot on their heels again.
It’s exactly what the Lightning were looking for when they returned home after two tough games in Denver.
8:55 p.m. ET
We’ve got a candidate for goal of the final – and maybe goal of the season Anthony Cirelli, who just lit up the pitch with an incredible powerplay goal to make it 13:03. He got around the Avalanche defenders and fired towards the goalie Darcy Kumper, and somehow pushed it through its pads. It was his first goal in 14 games.
The Lightning had looked pretty bad on the powerplay before that goal. We’re tied 1-1 with just over five minutes left in an entertaining first half.
The Lightning returned to the power play at 10:54 am Alex Newhook was whistled for holding the stick. It gave the Blitz a major power play shortly after Gabriel Landeskog gave Colorado a 1-0 lead with a power play goal.
8:45 p.m. ET
The Avalanche scored, and this time it counts. Gabriel Landeskog scored on the power play at 8:19 of the first period.
Tip to the Blitz: Stay clear of the penalty area.
The Lightning actually got the first power play of the game at 5:50 of the first period when he went forward JT Compher went off due to interference but was wiped out on Lightning Forward Ondrej Palat took a high stick penalty on the Avalanche defender Eric Johnson With 41 seconds remaining on the power play, the Avalanche eventually had a 1:19 power play.
We heard “Blitzkrieg Bop” by the Ramones for the first time tonight. I wonder if these guys ever realized that this song was going to be one of the greatest sports anthems of all time. Probably not. This was followed by an organ rendition of “Tequila” by the Champs here. However, it happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to get up and do my Pee Wee Herman dance.
NHL.com Blogger Nicholas Paul is everywhere in the early stages. He was one of the unsung heroes for the Lightning in that run, just ask Toronto Maple Leafs fans. He scored twice in Game 7 of Round 1 and has been a somber presence throughout that series.
8:33 p.m. ET
The Lightning got the first big break of the game. It seemed the Avalanche took a 1-0 lead through a goal Valery Nikhushkin exactly five minutes later, but after the Lightning was challenged, the game was called offside as the puck barely got out of the zone before then Bowen Byram put it back in.
It helped breathe some life back into this place after it seemed like the Avalanche had scored. The Lightning came out strong and put pressure on the Avalanche goalie Darcy Kumperbut he put himself to the test and made a pretty good try Ross Colton early in the first.
The Lightning produced some kings in pregame when Dave Andreychuk, captain of their team that won the 2004 cup, appeared on the ice.
Those paddling things the lightning throws out are loud. The sound reminds me of the stench of thunder that the California Angels or Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whatever their name, is used to spreading.
8:15 p.m. ET
After an emotional pre-match show that included an inspirational video with wrestler Titus O’Neil, AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” at the Amalie Arena and a rousing performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Sonya Bryson-Kirksey of The Lightning included, we’re ready to go here.
The Lightning, already trailing 0-2, will attempt to return to the series without a striker Brayden pointwho played in games 1 and 2 but missed the previous 10 games and is out tonight.
The Avalanche will be without forward Andre Burakowski for this and further Nazem Kadri Stay off.
Burakovsky’s absence is a major blow to the Avalanche; He had three points (two goals, one assist) in his first two games, including the OT goal in Game 1.
An interesting note from the goalkeeping situation is the fact that Andrei Vasilyevsky didn’t take part in the morning skating session of the whole Lightning team today. There is still much debate among the media and fans as to whether he should have been drawn after two thirds in Game 2. Trailing 5-0, it was clear the Lightning wouldn’t win Game 2 and he could have gotten some rest. Maybe he rested this morning. For the Lightning to even have a chance, it has to be better than it was in Games 1 and 2.
The Lightning also have to make life a lot harder for Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was barely tested in the first two games.
I think we all expect the Lightning to fire tonight, but let’s not forget that after losing Games 1 and 2 to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, they were down 2-0 in the second period before they finally woke up.
I’m not sure they can afford to fall behind against the Avalanche, who are two wins away from winning the Cup for the first time since 2001.
7:40 p.m. ET
The teams are on the ice warming up and Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri aren’t out there for the Avalanche, a good indication they won’t be playing tonight.
Lightning forward Brayden Point, viewed by coach Jon Cooper as a game-time decider, is also absent from the warm-up. Riley Nash is dressed, so don’t expect to see Point either.
For all you Broadway fans, The Lightning dive into the musical “Cats” to get the crowd going. They showed a video of the last two cup runs, set to “memories”. As long as it’s not from the James Corden movie, I’m fine with that decision.
This is the first time I’ve been here for a game – aside from the 2018 NHL All-Star Game – so I’m having to get used to the loud thunder sound effect they play every now and then. It scared me to death the first two times, but I’ll be ready to move on.
Kudos to the food stalls at the Amalie Arena. As part of the media dinner, we received a voucher for certain food stands. I ended up getting a bucket of Chicken Marsala. Pretty, pretty good.
7:20 p.m. ET
We’re about 45 minutes from the puck drop, and while the Lightning are 2-0 down, you can bet that crowd will be loud. In fact, every fan got some kind of plastic noisemaker. They look like the game we used to play as kids with the rubber ball and wooden paddle – see the scene in Blazing Saddles.
I would assume Lightning fans are “getting up” for the game at local bars because there aren’t that many people here right now, but judging by the amount of people on the streets of Tampa a few hours before the game, it will be packed.
When we go to games we like to keep an eye out for random hockey jerseys, and a few minutes ago we spotted a guy in a Billy Smith Islanders jersey. Pretty impressive.
The warm-ups are a few minutes away, so we should have an indication of who’s in and who’s not shortly.
6:45 p.m. ET
Stanley Cup fever is alive and well here in Tampa, with “Go Bolts” banners all over the city from corporations to high schools to hotels. Nevertheless, there is a certain uneasiness because Lightning not only lost 0:2, but also suffered a 0:7 defeat in game 2.
Speaking of fevers, it’s pretty hot here on the Gulf Coast. And unlike Denver, it’s not dry heat. It’s about 90 degrees and muggy, perfect hockey weather. Ha.
If you Lightning fans are looking for some good omens, there was some thunder and lightning in the Tampa area today, although I’m told that happens pretty much every afternoon here. But here’s a bigger one: As we left the media hotel, “Back to Life” by Soul II Soul. hmm
Getting back to hockey, the number one thing to watch out for ahead of the game is Lightning forward Brayden Point’s status. He played in Games 1 and 2 of the Finals after missing 10 games from an injury sustained in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he was off the ice this morning and is a game-time decision, according to coach Jon Cooper.
For the Avalanche, coach Jared Bednar says Andre Burakovsky and Nazem are Kadri on a day-to-day basis. Neither forward was on the ice Monday morning, and Burakovsky actually traveled from Denver to Tampa today.
The warm ups will start in about 45 minutes so maybe we can get a better idea of where things are with all three players.