The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, facing elimination in their Stanley Cup final series with the Colorado Avalanche, edged their rivals 3-2 to keep alive their dream of winning three consecutive Cups.
Colorado, which won the Cup in 1996 and 2001, is now up three games to two and lost a chance to win the coveted trophy in front of their fans.
Game 6 goes back to Tampa Bay on Sunday (June 26), where the Lightning boasts an 8-2 record. If needed, Game 7 is scheduled for Tuesday (June 28) in Denver.
Left-winger Ondrej Palat, the game's first star, scored the winner with less than seven minutes to go in the third period, and the Lightning held on until time ran out, helped by a Colorado bench penalty for too many men in the dying minutes.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa's goaltender and the third star, stopped 35 of 37 shots for his 14th win of the playoffs.
Tampa defenceman Jan Rutta opened the scoring with his first goal of the playoff campaign in the 16th minute of the first period. The Avalanche's Valeri Nichushkin evened it up less than six minutes into the second, but Nikita Kucherov restored Tampa's one-goal lead just over three minutes later with his eighth of the playoffs.
After Colorado defenceman Cale Makar, this year's Norris Trophy winner, tied things up again early in the third, Palat unloaded a shot from the slot that managed to get by Avalanche keeper Darcy Kuemper, who recorded only his third loss of the playoffs.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2020 and 2021, Tampa is attempting to become only the fourth team in NHL history—the others are the Montreal Canadiens, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the New York Islanders—to win the Cup three years in a row.
Montreal and the Islanders have each won four Cups in a row, doing it back-to-back in the 1970s and '80s, and the Canadiens also hold the all-time record of five consecutive final-game victories, from 1956 to 1960.