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Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche dominate Lightning in Game 2, take 2-0 series lead

Stanley Cup Final: Avalanche dominate Lightning in Game 2, take 2-0 series lead
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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