Lightning’s Ondrej Palat spoils another big Valeri Nichushkin night for Avalanche in Game 5

Three stars from the Avs’ 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final at Ball Arena:

Ondrej Palat, LW, Lightning — Thanks to the Czech forward, we’re taking this party down south to Tampa one more time. Mental istakes on the defensive end did the Avs in again, as they somehow left Palat all alone in the slot, where he was able to fire one through Darcy Kuemper’s “5” hole for a 3-2 Lightning lead with 6:32 left in regulation that wound up being the game-winner.

Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Avalanche — The Avs’ biggest bargain isn’t going to be a bargain for much longer, is he? Big Chu continued his dominance at Ball Arena during the Cup Finals with a goal and a timely assist, the latter of which knotted the game at 2-2 two-and-a-half minutes into the third period. The big Russian opened the scoring for the Avs with his fourth Finals goal — all four have come at home — and the unrestricted free agent’s ninth in 19 playoff games for the Burgundy and Blue.

Cale Makar, D, Avalanche — The newly-minted Norris Trophy winner got some redemption after a frustrating second period with a goal in the final stanza — thanks to Nichushkin’s muscle in front of the crease — that tied things up at 2 apiece. Through the game’s first 50 minutes, Makar led the Avs in takeaways (three) while ranking second in hits (five) and shots (six).

Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar

On playing well on the road: “We’ve been good on the road because we continue to play our game. The guys come in hungry and we play into our identities. The last game in Tampa we got stronger over time.”

On Game 5: “We played hard and played well. I didn’t love our start and the penalties early in the game made it hard to get going but after that we fought hard.”

Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog

“It’s not suppose to be easy and it’s not going to be easy. We knew that going into tonight.”

Avs Devon Toews

“We believe we can win every game. We felt like we played well tonight it just wasn’t enough.”

Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper

On the team’s mentality after Game 4 loss: “We know the feeling of being down and when you’ve been down this road, well, there’s a reason these guys have rings on their fingers.”

“Was this series meant to go to game 6 or 7? Damn right it was. These two teams are too good for it not to.”

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