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Lightning stay alive with late goal to beat Avalanche

The Avalanche lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 at Tampa Bay on Sunday night

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) celebrates his goal scored against the Colorado Avalanche with center Steven Stamkos (91) during the third period in Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver.
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports

DENVER — Ondrej Palat scored a tiebreaking goal late in the third period, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 36 saves, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final in Denver on Friday night.

Jan Rutta and Nikita Kucherov also scored and Corey Perry and Mikhail Sergachev had two assists each for the Lightning, who kept their hopes alive for a third straight championship.

The Avalanche lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 at Tampa Bay on Sunday night.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) defends the goal against Colorado Avalanche left wing Artturi Lehkonen (62) during the third period in Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver.
Mark J. Rebilas / USA Today Sports

Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin had a goal and an assist each and Darcy Kuemper turned away 26 shots for Colorado.

The game was tied 2-2 late when Palat took a shot from the slot that went off Kuemper's stick and through his pads at 13:38. It was his 11th goal of the playoffs.

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The Lightning didn't take advantage of two early power plays but broke through late in the first period. Rutta took a pass from Perry in the neutral zone, skated into the Avalanche end and blasted a shot from the right circle through Kuemper at 15:23.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram (4) defends against Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Pat Maroon (14) during the first period in Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver.
Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports

It was Rutta's first of the playoffs.

Colorado tied it early in the second period when Vasilevskiy couldn't corral Makar's high shot and it bounced into the crease where Nichushkin tapped it in at 5:07. It was his ninth of the postseason.

Minutes later Makar took a tripping penalty to give Tampa Bay a 4-on-3 power play, and the Lightning cashed in when Kucherov's shot from the high slot went off the right post and in at 8:10 to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 lead. It was his first goal of the series and 10th of the playoffs.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Colorado Avalanche
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Nicholas Paul (20) hits Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) during the second period in Game 5 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final on Friday, June 24, 2022, at Ball Arena in Denver.
Ron Chenoy / USA Today Sports

As they did in Game 4, the Avalanche tied the game at 2-all early in the third period. Makar's shot from the right circle was stopped by Vasilevskiy but it deflected off Erik Cernak's skate and through the goaltender's legs at 2:31.

It was Makar's eighth goal of the postseason.

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