Where did the back-to-back champs go?
The Colorado Avalanche blew the doors off the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night, bulldozing the defending Stanley Cup champions by a score of 7-0 to take a commanding 2-0 series lead as the final shifts to Florida.
The Avalanche came out swinging in Game 2, hemming the Lightning in their own zone for the vast majority of the entire first period -- and the whole game, really -- even drawing a penalty thanks to their dogged forechecking in the first shift of the game.
Valeri Nichushkin would eventually capitalize on that man advantage to open the scoring on a deft tip in front, the first of his two goals on the night that led the way for the Avalanche and gave his team an early lead.
It would only get worse for Tampa from then on, as a breakdown in the offensive zone soon after would lead to a two-on-one that was ultimately buried by Josh Manson to push the score to 2-0.
Andre Burakovsky was the next Avs player to pick up the slack, blasting a shot of his own past a struggling Andrei Vasilevskiy and continue his torrid series performance through these two games, handing the Avalanche a 3-0 advantage heading into the first intermission.
The Lightning put up more of a fight coming out of the break, to their credit, but it was still the Avalanche who ran the show, with Nichushkin once again worming his way to the front of Tampa's net to deposit the 4-0 marker with authority and put the game well out of reach.
That didn't stop them from piling on, though. After a few decent attempts by the Lightning near the end of the second period, another offensive zone turnover led to an odd-man break in the middle of ice, with Darren Helm carving through a pair of Tampa players before wiring a perfectly placed shot over the shoulder of Vasilevskiy.
The third period was more of the same, with the Lightning making mistake after mistake in high-leverage situations and the Avalanche making them pay for it time after time.
It was Cale Makar's turn to get in on the fun in the final frame, breaking up Tampa's cycle on the power play before ripping a fiery wrister past Vasilevskiy on a shorthanded rush early in the third, and then doing pretty much the same thing, only this time on the man advantage, with roughly 10 minutes to go to make it a 7-0 blowout.
While you can never count out this Lightning squad early in a series, especially before they've even played a game at home, it's hard not to wonder if Jon Cooper's team has simply met their match. The Avalanche outshot the Lightning by a whopping 31-17 margin and prevented them from ever gaining any semblance of offensive momentum.
It was a drubbing of the highest order, and now has the Lightning fighting for their lives as they head back to the friendly confines of Amalie Arena.
This team has come back from a 2-0 deficit before. But the odds are looking pretty bleak this far in.