Sometimes one gets the feeling that in North America there is simply no such statistic that has not been calculated. After the first game of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning (4-3 OT), the NHL press office calculated that the Russian Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevsky for the first time in 99 games in the playoffs conceded three goals in the first period.

After 20 minutes of play, the Lightning burned with a score of 1:3, but in the second period, John Cooper’s wards were able to equalize positions on the scoreboard. However, the last word in the match still remained with the “avalanches”. At the very start of the overtime, Valery Nichushkin and Andre Burakovsky worked together: the Russian forward laid the puck under a shot to touch, and the 2018 Stanley Cup winner in the Washington Capitals did not miss.


What did Nichushkin do!  Russian miracle pass in overtime nailed Tampa in the first game of the finals
What did Nichushkin do! Russian miracle pass in overtime nailed Tampa in the first game of the finals

In the first match of the final, 27-year-old Nichushkin became one of the main protagonists of the meeting. The Russian, who is on an expiring contract with Colorado, scored not only with an assist in overtime, but also with a goal in the first period. The second match of the final series began with the goal of the pupil of the Chelyabinsk hockey at the very start of the match. When playing the majority, the hosts confidently entrenched themselves in the zone, Burakovsky made a pass from the board to a nickel, Nichushkin got ahead of the Czech defender Jan Rutta and sent the puck into the far corner in touch, initiating a uniform pogrom of the guests in this match.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

Exactly five minutes after Nichushkin’s accurate throw, Tampa’s situation became noticeably more complicated. The Avalanche won the fight in their zone and ran away to the counterattack. Canadian striker Andrew Cogliano, who recovered from injury and returned to the hosts, delivered the puck to Josh Manson, the Canadian defender received a pass on the move, moved forward, rolled into the attack zone and threw it into the far corner – Vasilevsky did not reach.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

For the 27-year-old Tampa goaltender, tonight’s game was another historic milestone in the NHL playoffs. The Lightning goalkeeper became the first Russian goalkeeper to reach the milestone of 100 games played. Vasilevsky, who is in the prime of his hockey career, has long been ahead of Evgeny Nabokov (86) and Nikolai Khabibulin (72) in this indicator and now with each match he only raises the bar for future generations. But after the end of the second match of the final series, Vasilevsky will definitely not remember the conquest of such a significant milestone with positive thoughts.

The thing is that in the 14th minute of the first period, the Russian was forced to get the puck out of his own net again. Burakovsky entered the zone in the center and made a pass to the right edge, Rantanen threw it into the far corner with his hands – Vasilevsky reflected in front of him. Andre caught the rebound on the penny and with the full connivance of the defenders of the guests finished off the puck into the net.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

Thus, in the second match in a row, Vasilevsky missed three goals in the first period. This has not happened to the Russian goalkeeper for 98 matches since the beginning of his cup career in North America, and now the shells fell into the same funnel twice in a row. Moreover, the teams could have gone to the break with an even more noticeable advantage in the score, but towards the end Burakovsky missed a magnificent scoring chance, failing to realize a one-on-one with Vasilevsky.

Frustrated by the absolute failure in the first period, the Tampa coaching staff, already in the first break, went to radical changes in the attacking threes. The leading three of the Chambers – Stamkos – Kucherov, which had been giving results throughout the entire playoffs, was defeated, and Anthony Cirelli and Brandon Point became the new partners of the Russian. In turn, Ondřej and Steven formed a combination with Alex Killorn, and in the third three were Brandon Hagel, Nick Paul and Ross Colton. Only the fourth trio, consisting of Corey Perry, Pierre-Edouard Bellmare and Patrick Maroon, continued the match in the same combination.

But even such permutations did not change anything in the nature of the game. In one of the first shifts after the break, defender Manson could make out a double, but his throw from the blue line hit the post, but after only a few minutes, Nichushkin managed to make a double. Rantanen made an interception at the front side and shot at a penny, and Valery hit Vasilevsky’s goal from close range without interference. 0:4 by the 25th minute of the match – such a nightmare with Tampa in the playoffs has not happened for a very long time.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

Surely, at that moment, many people still had the idea on a subconscious level in their heads that now Tampa would really turn on, score one or two goals, and at least be able to revive the intrigue in the match. But instead, the Colorado continued to blatantly humiliate Cooper’s team. Five minutes before the end of the second period, a hat-trick could and should have made out Nichushkin. Nathan McKinnon gathered two opponents and made a counter pass, Valery jumped out onto the goal and threw it into the far corner with an uncomfortable hand – Vasilevsky, who continued to fight to the end, caught the puck on the ribbon with a desperate movement, making a magnificent save.

VIDEO

“If not for Vasilevsky, the score would have been 10:0. And this is not a joke, ”North American columnist Dan Rosen wrote on social networks.

And Colorado, shift after shift, continued to do everything in its power to get closer to the score that Rosen indicated. A few minutes after the brilliant rescue of Vasilevsky, the Avalanche won the fight and organized a counterattack. Stanley Cup winner while still in Detroit, Darren Helm picked up speed, burst into the zone and charged irresistibly into the top corner. And now associations with the cult song of the Chaif ​​group about Argentina and Jamaica involuntarily suggested themselves.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

Before the break, the hosts could have scored a sixth goal, but Vasilevsky first parried a dangerous shot from Logan O’Connor, and then survived in the minority, having managed to fend off attacks in the main organized by Cale Makar. By the way, the Canadian defender was almost injured in the second period as a result of the actions of Ross Colton. But for the happiness of the fans and the coaching staff of the Avalanches, everything worked out with the team’s leading defender.

VIDEO

The main intrigue for the third period was the answer to the question – will Vasilevsky appear at the gates of Tampa in the final segment or will the Lightning coaching staff replace the Russian goalkeeper with 37-year-old veteran Brian Elliott. For 94 matches Vasilevsky held in the playoffs from the first minutes, Cooper replaced Andrei only once during the meeting. So this time, the Canadian coach did not want to change the Russian, and he played the match to the end, which as a result ended with a score of 7:0 in favor of Colorado.


Not Ovechkin alone.  How the main veterans of the NHL spent the season and what will happen to them next
Not Ovechkin alone. How the main veterans of the NHL spent the season and what will happen to them next

At the beginning of the third period, the hosts also distinguished themselves when playing in the minority – Makar still managed to get his way. Cale picked up the puck in his zone, accelerated, rolled out to Vasilevsky’s goal and threw it right into the far corner. Inspired by the magnificent game from their team, the Colorado fans chanted about how much they want the Stanley Cup, and the guests were already thinking about returning to their native ice.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

The final result of the match was summed up by the same Makar, who also distinguished himself in the majority. 7-0 in the Stanley Cup Final. Uniform madness and the worst match in Vasilevsky’s career in the playoffs. The 100th anniversary cup match in his overseas career turned out to be a personal anti-record for Andrei – he had never missed so many in the playoffs in his life. In turn, Vasilevsky’s counterpart Darcy Kemper made one of the easiest shut-outs in his career. The Canadian goalkeeper finished the match with just 16 saved shots. And that was enough for the “rusk”.

The rights to the video belong to NHL Enterprises, LP You can watch the video on the official website of the NHL.

As for Makar, he became the first defenseman in the NHL in 26 years to score both a powerplay and a shorthand in the same playoff game. In 1996, the great Paul Coffey had a similar achievement. And it is noteworthy that the Canadian, who at that time played for Detroit, upset none other than Colorado in that meeting.

Today, Jared Bednar’s team has taken another step towards the championship title, but it’s too early for the “avalanches” to relax. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Tampa have already shown the ability to take a hit and bounce back from 0-2 in the series. Then the Rangers failed to bring the series to victory, despite two home wins at its start. With a score of 0-2, the Lightning won four matches in a row and eventually left the confrontation behind them. Now Cooper’s wards need to repeat a similar trick in the series with Colorado. Otherwise, the Avalanche will revolutionize the NHL and overthrow Tampa from the championship throne.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here