ONDREJ PALAT STRIKES AGAIN!! Lightning Stay Alive In Stanley Cup Final With Incredible 3-2 Win Over Avalanche

Harry How. Getty Images.

What on earth is it with Ondrej Palat? This man cannot stop scoring game-winning goals!! That is his 12th such clutch instance of postseason greatness — and it kept the Tampa Bay Lightning's three-peat hopes alive. Palat's seven third-period goals in these playoffs is also tied for the most in the past 25 years.

Ball Arena was electric tonight, as the Denver crowd did everything in its collective power to will the Avalanche to their first Stanley Cup since 2001. Despite outshooting the Bolts 38-29 and playing plenty well enough to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup, it wasn't meant to be for the hosts in Friday's Game 5.

Both of Colorado's goals were pretty ugly, but you have to give props to Cale Makar as the catalyst for each of them. On the first one, he simply threw the puck on net into an awkward spot. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy couldn't quite handle it. Valeri Nichushkin was right on the doorstep to make him pay.


Then, Makar got a good bit of puck luck at a critical time when his shot deflected off a skate in front of the net and wen through Vasilevskiy's five-hole for the early third-period equalizer.

Talk about grit on the Lightning's side of this. They played their hearts out on the road with their playoff lives at stake against an absolutely loaded adversary who seemed determined to seize the Stanley Cup on home ice. It took a heat-seeking missile of a slap shot by Jan Rutta to open the scoring. Peerless execution was required to set up Nikita Kucherov's PURE one-timer that struck the post and beat Darcy Kuemper.

That fake Steven Stamkos threw at Kuemper before swinging the puck to Kucherov was SIIIIIIIICK. I don't know how you even stop that much physical momentum when you're winding up, ready to unleash holy hell on a shot attempt. What a freaking move.


Mikhail Sergachev had what would've been a go-ahead goal around eight minutes into the third…only to draw pure iron.

We've seen two games go to overtime in this series, both won by the Avs. Pretty sure Tampa was determined not to let any more free hockey happen again, particularly in enemy territory. In this one, the disparity in goaltending seemed evident, as Vasilevskiy faced a heavier workload, got bad breaks on a pair of rather fluky goals, yet still stood his ground. Not to cast too much blame on Kuemper. It's just that he probably should've had that last one by Palat at least.

As the series shifts back to Tampa for Game 6, who knows how this is going to play out? Colorado has been excellent on the road in the playoffs. Trying to steal the Cup from the Lightning at Amalie Arena is another matter entirely.

I'll play you out with an excellent Bolts radio call of Palat's winner.