Avalanche bury Lightning 7-0 to take 2-0 series lead

Valeri Nichushkin and Cale Makar scored two goals apiece as the Colorado Avalanche thrashed the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 on Saturday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the NHL Stanley Cup Final.

The two-time defending champions Lightning, who rallied from 2-0 down to beat the New York Rangers in six games in the Eastern Conference final, struggled all night in the face of Colorado's devastating speed and skill.

Nichushkin put the Avalanche ahead at 2:54 of the first period with a power-play goal, redirecting Andre Burakovksy's pass past Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Colorado doubled the score at 7:55 of the first, The Avs offence barrelling through the Tampa Bay's defense and defenceman Josh Manson putting a slapshot from the right face-off circle over the shoulder of Vasilevskiy.

Less than 10 minutes into the first the Avs had a 15-1 shot advantage.

Burakovsky, who scored the game-winner in overtime in game one, made it 3-0 at 13:52 of the first on a rebound of a Mikka Rantanen shot.

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Colorado became just the third team in the history of the Stanley Cup Final to score at least three first-period goals in each of the first two games, joining the 1981 New York Islanders and the 1936 Detroit Red Wings.

Tampa Bay had more success slowing the Avalanche to start the second, but they struggled to build any offensive momentum.

A Tampa Bay turnover behind the net opened the door for a fourth Avalanche goal, Nichushkin making it 4-0.

Ten minutes later Vasilevskiy came up with a massive save off a Nichushkin shot, but Darren Helm beat him on a breakaway at 16:26 of the second to send it to the second intermission with the Avalanche up 5-0.

Colorado continued to pour it on in the third as Makar scored a short-handed goal and a power-play goal to push the lead to 7-0.

Makar became the second defenceman in NHL history to score a short-handed goal and a power-play goal in the same Stanley Cup Final game after Boston's Glen Wesley in 1988.

"I feel like we just stuck to our game plan," Makar said. "We did a really good job of just playing our systems. We just wanted to make sure we kept our feet moving."

Rantanen finished with three assists for the Avs and goalie Darcy Kuemper made 16 saves.

The Lightning, trying to become the first team to win the Stanley Cup in three straight seasons since the New York Islanders won four from 1980 through 1983, will try to regroup when they host game three on Monday.

"It's always the next game is the hardest one," Makar said. "We want to get on top of them early. Obviously we're going to their home territory. We're just going to stick to our game plan and overall play aggressive." (AFP)

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