TAMPA — Sitting at the podium Wednesday morning, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said the Lightning penalty kill would have to be “picture perfect” to stop the league’s best unit this postseason.
Just over five minutes into the second period, though, Bellemare and Co. could not stop Colorado from scoring again on the man-advantage, one of the Avalanche’s most glaring advantages during this Stanley Cup final.
Colorado entered Wednesday night 5-of-12 on the power play, compared to just 1-of-13 for the Lightning. Just over a minute after Victor Hedman was called for interference on Nico Sturm in front of the net, Nathan MacKinnon threaded a cross-ice pass to Mikko Rantanen, whose shot was deflected in off MacKinnon’s skate to tie the game.
Adding insult to injury, the Lightning had squandered the game’s first power play near the end of the first period, registering the same amount of shots (two) that the Avalanche managed shorthanded after Riley Nash drew an interference call on Darren Helm.
The Lightning only managed three more shots on their next power play. The Lightning now have scored one power-play goal on 31 shots in this series, while Colorado has scored six on 26 shots.
“I thought we had some decent looks (Wednesday),” Steven Stamkos said of the Lightning’s performance on the power play. “Just not really in a rhythm right now, so we’ll have to make some adjustments.”
The Lightning were much better on the penalty kill the second time around, after Stamkos was called for hooking. Colorado did not manage a shot on goal until the last 30 seconds of the power play, when Vasilevskiy made saves on Cale Makar and MacKinnon.
For the second straight game, NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley made an appearance to cheer on the Lightning and friend Jon Cooper.
Several prominent Tampa sports figures stole the show Monday, however. Super Bowl champion and Buccaneers Ring of Honor member Mike Alstott hit the Tesla coils to hype up the crowd before the game, while former WWE wrestler Titus O’Neil — who features in a pregame hype video — bellowed, “Let’s Go Bolts” into the microphone during a Jumbotron appearance.
Bucs cornerback Jamel Dean (who flashed his “Go Bolts!” sign) and linebacker Shaquil Barrett also were featured on the big screen.
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