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STANLEY CUP FINAL | Lightning 6, Avalanche 2

Lightning come roaring back to take Game 3 from Avalanche

Tampa Bay's Corey Perry scores against Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz in the second period in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.Bruce Bennett/Getty

TAMPA — Steven Stamkos, Pat Maroon, and Ondrej Palat each had a goal and an assist, and the Tampa Bay Lightning scored four times in the second period and beat the Colorado Avalanche, 6-2, Monday night in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Anthony Cirelli, Nicholas Paul, and Corey Perry also scored to help the two-time defending champion Lightning bounce back after playing poorly while losing the first two games on the road. Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman had two assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 shots.

Stamkos, Paul, Maroon, and Perry scored in the second period, when the Lightning chased Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper while pulling away to trim their series deficit to 2-1.

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Gabriel Landeskog had two goals and Mikko Rantanen had two assists for the Avalanche. Kuemper gave up five goals on 22 shots before he was replaced by Pavel Francouz, who finished with nine saves.

Game 4 is Wednesday night at Amalie Arena, where the Lightning have won a franchise-record eight straight playoff games and Colorado lost on the road for the first time this postseason.

Two nights after being limited to just 16 shots in a 7-0 loss in Denver, the Lightning rebounded by finally finding a way to neutralize Colorado’s speed and solve Kuemper to avoid falling to the brink of elimination.

The defending champs became the first team since 1919 to win a Stanley Cup Final game after losing by seven-plus goals the previous game.

The Avalanche lifted Kuemper after Maroon scored a soft goal that put the Lightning up, 5-2, with 8:45 remaining in the second. Perry reached behind Francouz to tap in a rebound that came off the right post to make it 6-2 with 5:02 left in the period.

The back-to-back champions overcame a 2-0 series deficit in the Eastern Conference final to eliminate the New York Rangers in six games. They’re looking to do it again against Colorado to complete their quest for the NHL’s first three-peat in nearly 40 years.

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Cirelli and Palat scored in the opening period for the Lightning, who played with a lot more energy than in Games 1 and 2, when they appeared to be a step or two slower than the speedy, high-scoring Avalanche.

Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring a second-period goal during Monday's Game 3 win over Colorado.Julio Aguilar/Getty

The seven-goal loss in Game 2 raised the question of whether a team that’s played 68 postseason games — most by a single club over a span of three playoffs — since 2020 is running out of gas as it tries to become the first franchise to win at least three consecutive Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.

And while, coach Jon Cooper discounts the toll playing so much playoff hockey has taken on his players, Colorado clearly looked like the fresher team in Games 1 and 2 after going 12-2 against Nashville, St. Louis, and Edmonton in breezing through the first three rounds.

Spurred on by a sellout crowd of more than 19,000, and playing with a sense of urgency absent for much of the first two games, the Lightning scored twice in a span of 1:51 to wipe out a 1-0 lead the Avalanche took on the first of Landeskog’s two power-play goals.

Cirelli crossed in front of Kuemper to make it 1-1 at 13:03 of the opening period. Palat delivered his 10th goal of the playoffs off a pass from Stamkos to give Tampa Bay a lead for the first time in the series.

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Andrei Vasilevskiy yielded a second power-play goal to Landeskog, who briefly trimmed a two-goal deficit to 3-2 before Tampa Bay pulled away for good.

After allowing the most goals he’s ever given up in the playoffs in Game 2, Vasilevskiy had 13 saves in the first period, 12 in the second and 12 in the third.

The Lightning became the third team in NHL history score six goals in a Stanley Cup Final after yielding at least seven the previous game.