In many ways, this game resembled Saturday's contest in Dallas. In both, the Lightning carried play for most of the night, but couldn't hold a third period lead. In both, the opposing goalie denied numerous Lightning scoring chances, giving his team an opportunity to rally and force overtime.
Of course, the big difference between the two games was the final score. On Sunday in Colorado, the Lightning were able to salvage the second point when Jonathan Drouin scored an incredible highlight-reel overtime goal.
It's true that the Lightning did control the majority of the action during the game, but of the 29 shots Colorado registered, a high number of them were scoring chances. Fortunately for the Lightning, Ben Bishop, in his first start since the bye week ended, did not display any rust. And he had to be sharp right off the bat. He made a terrific point blank save on Gabriel Landeskog in the opening minute to keep the game scoreless.
Eventually, the Lightning took over the first period. They forced a number of turnovers in the neutral zone and the Colorado defensive zone. They also were relentless in their puck pursuit and retrieval. As a result, they enjoyed some long offensive zone shifts. They had a shooting mentality and fired 17 first period shots on net. With 1:42 left in the frame, they finally broke through against Calvin Pickard. Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn and Brayden Point teamed up on a nice passing sequence - Point finished a one-timer from the slot to give the Bolts a 1-0 lead.
The Lightning added 13 more shots in the second as their puck possession advantage continued. Pickard made many key stops, including several on Nikita Kucherov (who finished with a career-best nine shots for the game). But the one goal Pickard allowed in the period wasn't exactly a Grade-A scoring chance. Off the rush, Vladdy Namestnikov slid a slow shot through Pickard's pads to extend the lead.
Even though the Avs didn't have the puck as much as the Lightning, they were consistently dangerous off the rush (when they were able to get through the neutral zone). Early in the third, one of those rushes yielded a point-blank shot for Blake Comeau and a rebound goal for Mikko Rantanen. The Avs gained momentum from that goal and forced Bishop to make a handful of tough saves over the next several minutes. Just past the halfway point of the third, there was a long delay to repair a stanchion. That break seemed to get the Lightning back on track. Moments after play resumed, Tyler Johnson put in a rebound of a Jake Dotchin shot. But the Avs won a coach's challenge, negating the goal and keeping the game at 2-1.
Momentum had shifted back to the Bolts, however. As the third period wound down, the Lightning kept up the attack and had other opportunities to extend the lead. But Kucherov hit the post and Pickard stopped the other attempts. Then, with Pickard on the bench for an extra attacker in the final minute, the Avs tied it. Matt Duchene's shot from the right circle deflected off both Hedman and Dotchin into the net.
OT was a wide-open affair. Bishop made a terrific save on Rantanen off a two-on-one and also came out of his crease to grab a loose puck before Nathan MacKinnon could corral it on a potential breakaway.
The sequence leading to the winning goal began with Drouin barreling into the offensive zone, curling behind the Colorado net and skating back toward the right point. After a pass to and from Dotchin, he maneuvered the puck towards the slot. Matt Nieto looked like he was going to intercept it, but Drouin forced it off his stick, got behind him and finished a backhand deke into the net. It was an incredible display of determination and skill. And it won the game for the Lightning.
Like last weekend's back-to-back set of road games, the Lightning earned three out of four points (and won the second half of each back-to-back). They've now gone 4-0-2 in their past six. They'll begin a four-game homestand Tuesday against Edmonton in what will be Connor McDavid's first game at Amalie Arena.
Lightning Radio Big Moment of the Game:
Drouin's OT winner.
Lightning Radio Three Stars of the Game:
1. Jonathan Drouin - Lightning. Highlight-reel GWG in OT.
2. Ben Bishop - Lightning. 27 saves.
3. Matt Duchene - Avalanche. Goal and assist.