The 2022 National Hockey League playoffs came to a close with the thrilling Stanley Cup Finals matchup between the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the red-hot Western Conference champs, the Colorado Avalanche. The series lasted from June 15 to June 26, ending in a 4-2 series win for the Colorado Avalanche.
This was Tampa Bay’s third consecutive Finals appearance and fifth overall, and it was the Colorado Avalanche’s third overall appearance. Tampa Bay seeked to complete a three-peat after winning both the 2020 and 2021 Stanley Cup Finals.
In game one, the Avalanche controlled the first period scoring three times compared to the Lightning’s one goal. Colorado’s captain Gabriel Landeskog began the scoring, pushing the puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The next goal came when defenceman Victor Hedman’s clearing attempt was picked by Nathan MacKinnon, whose pass to Valeri Nichushkin made it 2–0. In the second period, the Lightning got two goals to tie the game. The third period did not have any scoring despite the Avalanche firing 12 shots compared to the Lightning’s 5 shots, thus the game went into overtime. In overtime, as the Lightning attempted to clear the zone, J. T. Compher picked up the loose puck and shot it, but it was blocked by a Lightning defenceman. The puck then came to Nichushkin who passed to Andre Burakovsky and he fired a snap shot past Vasilevskiy to give Colorado a 4–3 victory.
The Avalanche then routed the Lightning in game two 7-0 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. In game three, the Lightning showed more offense than their previous two games and bounced back in the series after winning the high-scoring game 6-2.
Game 4 went to overtime again after the Avalanche and Lightning were tied 2-2 after the third period. In overtime, the Avalanche’s Kuemper flipped the puck ahead to Artturi Lehkonen who passed to a speeding Nazem Kadri who fired a shot through the top of the goal, giving Colorado a 3–2 victory along with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to win the series in Game 5 at home.
A close game 5 saw Tampa Bay fighting to stay alive in the series. Tampa scored first, gaining a 1-0 lead in the game thanks to a goal from Jan Rutta. By the end of the second period, however, the Avalanche had taken more control over the game and tied it up 2-2. Ondrej Palat scored the eventual winner for Tampa Bay with 7 minutes remaining to take home Game 5 and stay alive in the series.
Back in Tampa for game six, the Lightning struck first during the first period. As the Lightning were working the forecheck, a giveaway by Cale Makar brought an errant deflection to Steven Stamkos who put it five-hole through Darcy Kuemper. The Avalanche managed to tie the game in the second period during their offensive zone coverage which led to a delayed penalty on Tampa Bay. On the delayed penalty, Nathan MacKinnon’s shot from the short side beat Andrei Vasilevskiy. Colorado then gained the lead when Artturi Lehkonen hit a wrist shot in the back of the net to go up 2–1. With the lead, the Avalanche continued to shoot at the Lightning goaltender. The Avalanche held on to claim a 2–1 victory to win their third Stanley Cup.