DENVER | Turns out, the deflections weren’t just reserved for his gifted goaltender.
Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos did his best Andrei Vasilevskiy impression after the game by swiftly turning aside a question about how nice it was to get another revenge win over Colorado, the team that dethroned Tampa Bay last season in the Stanley Cup final.
“There are no revenge wins,” Stamkos quickly asserted. “It’s a new season.”
Stamkos had the lone score in the shootout and the Lightning rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the banged-up Avalanche 4-3 on Tuesday night.
The first to go, Stamkos sent a wrist shot past Alexandar Georgiev to set the tone for the shootout. Vasilevskiy took it from there by stopping all three shots.
Nikita Kucherov, Anthony Cirelli and Vladislav Namestnikov had goals for a Tampa Bay team that trailed 2-0 midway through the second period. Vasilevskiy finished with 43 saves.
Artturi Lehkonen, Nathan MacKinnon and Denis Malgin had goals for the Avalanche. It was Malgin’s first goal in a Colorado uniform after being acquired in a deal with Toronto on Dec. 19.
This was the second showdown of the season between the Stanley Cup finalists. Vasilevskiy led the Lightning to a 5-0 win five days ago in Tampa.
This game had all the feel of a playoff contest, including some hard hits and a brief fight. Colorado beat the Lightning in six games last season to hoist the third Stanley Cup trophy in franchise history.
“We know the quality of team that they are,” Stamkos said. “But it’s a different year. … We want to win hockey games and get as many points as we can.”
The Lightning became the eighth different NHL team to record a win in each of their first two or more regular season games against the club that knocked them off in the previous final, according to NHL Stats.
“I know they’ve had some injuries, but they’re still a hell of a team,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.
Georgiev stopped 32 shots.
The final moments of the third period featured a flurry of near goals. J.T. Compher almost scored in front only to be stopped by the quick glove of Vasilevskiy. Kucherov was turned back by a sprawled-out Georgiev.
It was that sort of end-to-end action all evening.
“Really good game from both teams,” Georgiev said. “Pretty fun for the fans, I guess.”
Cirelli tied the game at 2-apiece just 26 seconds into the third period. Soon after Colorado took another lead on Malgin’s goal, Namestnikov tied it again.
The Avalanche had the crowd revved up when MacKinnon gave Colorado a 2-0 lead with his 17th goal of the season.
But a scoring chance by Compher quickly went the other way when he missed a shot wide and the puck traveled down the ice. Brayden Point quickly started a break and fed a pass to Kucherov for a tap-in goal to make it 2-1.
Lehkonen broke a five-game goal drought by sending a shot past the glove of Vasilevskiy just 50 seconds into the game.
Colorado has been dealing with a lengthy list of injuries all season. It currently includes defensemen Cale Makar, Erik Johnson and Josh Manson, along with goaltender Pavel Francouz. They’ve been without captain Gabriel Landeskog all season after he underwent knee surgery in October.
After the game, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said that Johnson is going to “miss some time” with a lower-body injury.
“I don’t have a tight timeline on him, but he’s out indefinitely,” Bednar said. “It will be weeks.”
With a goal and an assist, MacKinnon reached the 60-point mark for the seventh time in his career. That trails Joe Sakic (17 times), Peter Stastny (10), Michel Goulet (9) and Anton Stastny (8) for the most in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history.
Both teams play on the road Wednesday night. The Lightning will be at Arizona and the Avalanche at Minnesota.