Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, shown March 15, 2018, recorded an assist in the Game 2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
June 18 (UPI) -- The Colorado Avalanche crushed the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning 7-0 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday night at Ball Arena in Denver.
With the dominant shutout victory, the Avs took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. In doing so, Colorado became the fifth team in NHL history -- and the first since the 1976 Montreal Canadiens -- to take a 2-0 lead in the Final against the defending Cup winners.
Three of the previous four teams to accomplish that feat went on to hoist the Cup. Game 3 is set for Monday night in Tampa.
The Lightning shrugged off their 4-3 overtime loss to the Avs in Game 1 of the series, insisting they would bounce back behind star goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and their high-powered offense led by captain Steven Stamkos.
Instead, the Lightning conceded three goals during the opening period, becoming just the third team ever to allow three or more first-period goals in the first two games of a Stanley Cup Final.
Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin continued his red-hot play this postseason with a power-play goal just 2:54 into the first period. Josh Manson and Andre Burakovsky each added goals later in the period to give Colorado full control.
Nichushkin scored again in the second to extend the Avs' lead to 4-0. Near the end of the second frame, veteran forward Darren Helm notched his second goal of the playoffs to increase Colorado's advantage.
Avalanche star defenseman Cale Makar's short-handed goal early in the final period made it 6-0. He later added a power-play goal -- assisted by star center Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen -- as the Avs improved their league-best home record to 58-8-5 in their past 71 games at Ball Arena, including the postseason.
It marked just the second time in Vasilevskiy's 465-game NHL career that he allowed seven goals in a single game.
The Lightning have yet to beat the Avalanche this season, losing twice in the regular season in Denver and twice this postseason.