Andrei Vasilevskiy dismissed many shots, keeping the double-cross reigning champs' mission for a three-peat alive. Eventually, one more superior execution by the star goaltender wasn't sufficient to keep the Colorado Avalanche from wresting the title away.
"It most certainly stings," defenseman Ryan MacDonagh said.
The Lightning was 3-0 while confronting conceivable disposal before Sunday night's 2-1 misfortune in Game 6 halted their bid to turn into the primary group to come out on top for three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders caught four in succession from 1980-83.
The Avalanche just had seven chances off in the initial period. However, it came constantly at Vasilevskiy, who wrapped up with 28 recoveries. Nathan MacKinnon and Artturi Lehkonen scored for Colorado in the second, and the Lightning never recuperated in tumbling to 2-6 while following behind two periods this postseason.
We just ran dry," mentor Jon Cooper said. "What's more, it sucks."
En route to his group's fourth Stanley Cup Final appearance in eight years, Cooper frequently wondered about the coarseness and assurance of a group that opposed any compulsion to become complacent in the wake of bringing home consecutive titles.
"The end of the season games are a conflict of whittling down, yet they recently made want more," Cooper said of his players. "To stay here and think the last season finisher series we lost was Columbus in 2019. They got to offer your appreciation to those folks there. … They were glad. That is why you recall these groups since they did everything right, they never griped, and when the ability washes each other out, the gamers make it happen. What's more, they were gamers."
The Lightning crushed the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and New York Rangers en route to the current year's conclusive and had won 11 sequential series before running into the expedient, super-capable Avalanche.
"There are so many simple outs we might have taken. However, this gathering didn't," Stamkos said. "We didn't stop. We left everything on the ice."
Notwithstanding Sunday night's misfortune, there are a lot of motivations to accept Tampa Bay's window for progress isn't shut, starting with Vasilevskiy, Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman, and Brayden Point, who missed the majority of this season finisher pursue driving the groups in objectives scored every one of the beyond two postseasons.
"It's been unbelievable," Stamkos said. "Who says we're finished? The centre has been to four finals over the most recent eight years and brought home two titles."
The Lightning confronted the association's MVP in Auston Matthews in the principal round, the Presidents' Trophy victors in the second, and Vezina Trophy champ and MVP finalist Igor Shesterkin in the Eastern Conference last. Then came the Avalanche, including Norris Trophy victor Cale Maker.
"Ritzy groups," Cooper said. "Dislike we lost to some powder puff."
Dissimilar to a year prior, when the Lightning entered the offseason realizing there would be considerable changes to the program because of compensation cap restrictions, there figures to be little change to its skilled centre after this season's drawn-out season finisher run.
The group spent much of this season reconstructing its third line in the wake of exchanging Tyler Johnson, losing Yanni Gourde to the extension draft, Blake Coleman, and Barclay Goodrow to free organization after each of them four assumed critical parts in consecutive title runs.
The most significant inquiry this year is whether they'll have the option to hold Ondrej Palat and Nicholas Paul, a couple of flexible advances which will be unlimited accessible specialists and could order huge paydays on the open market this late spring.
Palat, a seventh-round draft pick in 2011 who has been underestimated while playing on a gifted club that is shown up starting around 2015, positions second in vocation season finisher games with 138.
The 31-year-old scored 23 objectives during the standard season — most beginning around 2013-14 — and wrapped up with 21 places (11 goals, ten aids) in 23 games this postseason.
The Lightning obtained Paul in exchange for the Ottawa Senators in March. At 27, he's four years more youthful than Palat; a fan most loved who scored an establishment's best 11 game-dominating objectives at the end of the season games.