Sports

Colorado Avs' Game Two Dominance Has Fans on Twitter Thinking Stanley Cup Sweep

Valeri Nichushkin celebrates the first of the Colorado Avalanche's seven goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning during game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs on June 18.
Valeri Nichushkin celebrates the first of the Colorado Avalanche's seven goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning during game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs on June 18. ESPN/NHL via YouTube
A venerated sports cliché contends that a series doesn't start until the home team loses a game. By that standard, plenty of hockey fans on Twitter are thinking the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning may already be over, with the number of tweets predicting a sweep after the Avs' incredible 7-0 victory at Ball Arena on June 18 continuing to proliferate.

Signs that the Avalanche players weren't satisfied with their performance in the series opener despite winning 4-3 in overtime were clear within seconds of the puck hitting the ice. Colorado's aggressiveness forced a Tampa Bay penalty just over a minute into the contest, and in the waning seconds of the power play, Valeri Nichushkin put one past Tampa Bay's superstar goaltender, Andrei Vasilevskiy. And before the first period was over, Josh Manson and game one hero Andre Burakovsky had repeated the feat.

Over the next two periods, Colorado turned Vasy, nicknamed the Big Cat, into a defenseless kitten by way of another four goals. Among those cashing in were Darren Helm, Nichushkin (again) and Cole Makar (twice).

By the end of the rout, the only surprises were that Avalanche leader Nathan MacKinnon hadn't netted one (he did get an assist), and that Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper had left Vasilevskiy in the lineup throughout, in order to experience every bit of the humiliation personally. As for Avs goalie Darcy Kuemper, Colorado's big question mark going in, he only had to face sixteen shots the entire game — and he stopped all of them to earn a shutout.

Afterward, ABC hockey analyst Mark Messier said the Avs put on the single-most-dominant performance he'd ever seen — and given that he's a six-time Stanley Cup champion who excelled alongside Wayne Gretsky during the most storied portion of his career, that's a bold statement. For Avs boosters, even better was Makar's demeanor during a post-game interview. When ESPN's Emily Kaplan asked if he planned to celebrate the win, a stone-faced Makar simply said, "No."

This attitude is what makes thoughts of a sweep more than a fantasy. The Avs didn't just beat the Tampa Bay skaters; they obliterated them. And while the Lightning will be on home ice for the next two games, each member of the squad will have what happened on Saturday night fresh in his mind.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts