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The Colorado Avalanche wins its first Stanley Cup in 21 years

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri lifts the Stanley Cup after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.
John Bazemore
/
AP
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri lifts the Stanley Cup after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Finals on Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Tampa, Fla.

The Colorado Avalanche are professional hockey's new champions — and road warriors with a flair for the dramatic.

The team defeated the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 for the Avalanche's first championship in 21 years and third overall Stanley Cup.

Colorado scored two goals, while the Lightning, which won the Stanley Cup in both 2020 and 2021, scored the game's first goal. The Avalanche's Cale Makar was awarded the playoffs' most valuable player.

Key statistics tell the story of the new NHL champions. Colorado clinched all four of its 2022 playoff series on the road – becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to do so. Its 16-4 playoff record is the second-best in league history. And Colorado's 10 comeback wins during the playoffs tied the record for most in NHL history.

Colorado's championship was years in the making. The team finished the 2016-17 season with the league's worst record. It was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in 2018 and in the second round the past three seasons.

"This is what I've always dreamed of, as a kid, with my buddies, my father," said 34-year-old Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson. "That's what life is all about. You surround yourself with people who believe in you. It truly takes a village, including all the (team's) support staff."

Tampa Bay had aimed to become the NHL's first three-peat champion since the early 1980s New York Islanders dynasty. Now Colorado will try to create its own title streak.

"They're a team that's looking to become a dynasty," Makar said. "We're a team that's looking to start a legacy."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: June 27, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Cale Makar was named series most valuable player. Makar was named MVP for the playoffs.
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