When a team finds itself relevant in a playoff race they were once considered dead in and then gets annihilated 6-2 on the road, you look at their response as a big reveal of the character of the club. With the Avalanche facing that exact response against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it's pretty clear they aren't yet a team ready for the pressure of the spotlight.
A dominant start by the Lightning saw Ondrej Palat give them a 1-0 lead 10:29 into the game and despite some late Avalanche pressure Tampa Bay would walk into the first intermission maintaining the lead.
The second period is when things became truly discouraging as the Avalanche gave up a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal to Steven Stamkos only 1:39 into the frame for the 2-0 lead. Not only would the defense not significantly improve but the offense was so lethargic Head Coach Patrick Roy began to mix up the lines halfway through trying to find an offensive spark.
Not finding the spark, Stamkos would take advantage of more porous Avalanche defense to push Tampa Bay ahead 3-0, a lead they would take into the third period.
Not satisfied with a complete no show through two periods, the Avalanche would find a way to top their lethargic performance of the first two periods by switching to complete apathy instead. Tampa Bay, almost out of sheer boredom, would push it to 4-0 when Tyler Johnson would bang home a puck uncontested.
1. Steven Stamkos - 2 goals
2. Ondrej Palat - 1 goal, 2 assists
3. Ben Bishop - 21 saves
PLAY OF THE GAME
I could have selected ten different highlights showing the great Tampa Bay passing and porous Colorado defense. The second Stamkos goal was dagger enough tonight.
The game's opening goal would provide all the offense Tampa Bay would need to win this one running away. All the other goals were just nails in Avalanche coffin.
BY THE NUMBERS
QUOTE OF THE GAME
"They played well but we just were the worst team tonight. It wasn't even the fact that they were the better team. That was a given because we were so bad." -Matt Duchene
The loss honestly doesn't hurt the Avalanche a ton in the standings because Minnesota, Nashville, and Winnipeg all lost in regulation so among the four teams fighting for the final playoff spots, there was no movement whatsoever. You can either look at that as a bit of good luck for the Avalanche or a missed opportunity.
The Avalanche continue a brief two-game homestand when the New Jersey Devils come calling on Thursday, January 14. Puck drop is set for 7:00PM MST.