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Tampa Bay Lightning denied hat-trick by Colorado Avalanche, but adamantly ‘it’s not the end of our run’

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning haven’t won the first Stanley Cup hat-trick since 1983 — but they don’t believe their dynasty has crumbled.

“Who said we were done? That core is there. We fought. We went through everything you can think of and for the most part found a way to stand out,” Lightning said. captain Steven Stamkos after his team’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Sunday night.

The Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup since 2001 with the victory. They were favored to win the Cup at the start of the playoffs and favored to win this series.

“It’s not like we lost to a whiff of powder. It’s a ballerina team out there,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “We have never had ice cream at home. We faced all these star teams. They found a way.

Cooper agreed with Stamkos that the Lightning’s run didn’t end with the Avalanche. Over the past eight years, the Lightning have appeared in six conference finals and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals four times.

“The playoff streak is over. But it’s not the end of our run,” Cooper said. “I’ve been extremely lucky in my coaching career to have won championships at different levels, and these are the teams you remember. Sometimes you don’t remember as much as a team didn’t win. But I think I’ll remember this team the most. What these guys have been through, with the injuries…it’s been well documented what kind of warriors they are. You should see what happens. [with injuries].”

The Lightning were without star center Brayden Point, who missed the previous two rounds with a lower-body injury he suffered in Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 14. Point played the first two games against Colorado and was ineffective, and he didn’t appear in the rest of the series. Striker Anthony Cirelli and defender Erik Cernak suffered injuries, as did several other players.

“When the injury report comes out, you’re going to be shocked,” Tampa Bay forward Pat Maroon said. “I’m so proud of these guys for what they’ve done over the last three years. We had a hell of a run. We just failed.”

The Lightning enter the offseason with a handful of free agents, including clutch winger Ondrej Palat, trade deadline pick Nick Paul and stable defenseman Jan Rutta. But the core team is under contract for 2022-23.

Whether or not they bid for three Cups in four seasons, Cooper said this group is among the greatest teams in NHL history.

“These guys are on par with the Islanders and the Oilers of the 1980s. Teams you’ve been talking about for decades,” he said.


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