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Colorado Avalanche, The Morning After loss at Tampa Bay

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning became the first NHL team to reach 20 victories Thursday when it defeated the Avalanche 5-2 at Amalie Arena.

THREE STARS

  1. Steven Stamkos. Bolts captain had a goal and two assists.
  2. Vlad Namestnikov. Also had a goal and three points for Tampa Bay.
  3. Erik Johnson. Avs defenseman logged a team-high 28:31 and scored a goal to tie it 2-2.

WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED

The Avs outshot the Lightning 23-15 in the second and third periods. Former Colorado goalie Peter Budaj was really good after the first period, and probably should get a star. Let’s say he was No. 3B.

NEXT UP

Saturday, at Florida, 5 p.m. MT

Five takeaways:

Key return. Left wing Gabe Landeskog, who returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension, played 20:48, second among Avs forwards (Nathan MacKinnon 21:28). Landeskog had a goal on his first shift and, although he committed two minor penalties, the team played better with him in the lineup. Make no mistake, the MacKinnon line with wingers Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen is considered a feared offensive threesome.

Equal opportunity. Defenseman Mark Barberio logged 18:05, second most among the Avalanche’s seven defensemen. In the first period, he played a team-high 8:35. And just think, Barberio was a healthy scratch in Colorado’s previous game. I’ll have more on Barberio’s two-game swing Friday from Sunrise, Fla.

Have a seat. Nikita Zadorov (10:51) played the fewest among Colorado’s blue-line corps, after getting burned by Steven Stamkos when the Tampa Bay captain scored 25 seconds after Landeskog made it 1-0 at 1:21 of the first period.

Mad month. The Avs are 0-4 this month. Last season, they went 3-12 in December and were generally out of playoff contention in January. Losing to the Lightning is expected, but the teams play again a week from Saturday at the Pepsi Center, and Colorado needs to put together some wins before likely losing to the Bolts for the second time in nine days.

Mad Mikko. Rantanen didn’t do what the referee accused him of doing early in the third period. Rantanen was whistled for holding Victor Hedman’s stick, and the Lightning scored on the ensuing power play to make it 4-2. The game wasn’t decided by the penalty, but it definitely hurt Colorado’s attempted comeback. Rantanen was super upset about the call — I can’t print his exact words — and he said he was simply warding off Hedman while carrying the puck around the net. I appreciate Rantanen’s fire. He’s going to have a great career.

 

 

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