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Sean Keeler: Want to beat Lightning coach Jon Cooper, Avalanche? Join him. Start fast. Play desperate.

Sean Keeler, The Denver Post on

Published in Hockey

DENVER — How bad do you want it, Nathan MacKinnon?

With the exception of Game 4, where things got cuckoo immediately and largely stayed there, the Stanley Cup Final have been dictated by the team — Avalanche or Lightning — that controlled the first 20 minutes.

Game 1: The Gabe Landeskog and Val Nichushkin Show set the tone for the party, firing the hosts to a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, and a 4-3 Avs win in overtime.

Game 2: Andre Burakovsky’s goal capped a 3-0 first-period cushion en route to a 7-0 Colorado laugher.

How bad you want it, Landy?

Game 3: Tampa Bay’s Ondrej Palat broke a 1-1 deadlock with five minutes left in the first period, setting the stage for a four-goal Lightning onslaught in the second stanza and Darcy Kuemper getting pulled during a 6-2 Tampa rout.

 

Game 5: Lightning D-man Jan Rutta snapped a scoreless tie late in the first, firing a shot from the right dot that Kuemper let bounce off his glove and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Lightning lead. On a night when goals were precious, Tampa cashed in on a handful of Avs errors for a 3-2 victory.

How bad you want it, Darcy?

How bad do you want the Stanley Cup? The parade? All of it?

The Lightning are stubborn royalty, clinging to Lord Stanley the way a dangling cat clings to a tree branch.

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