Tampa Bay Returns Home Looking to get Back in Stanley Cup Finals
The Tampa Bay Lightning has shown tremendous resiliency during the last three years in the Stanley Cup playoffs. If the Lightning wants to become the first team to win three consecutive NHL titles since the New York Islanders in the early 1980s, they need to take care of business on home ice in Avalanche vs Lightning Game 3.
After rallying to force overtime in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Lightning looked overmatched in a 7-0 loss in Game 2. The good news is that the next two games are at home. If Tampa Bay wins both of those contests, the series will be even.
Tampa Bay is 7-1 at home during this year’s playoffs while Colorado is 7-0 on the road so something will have to change. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 1.69 goals-against average at home during the playoffs compared to a mark of 3.29 on the road. His numbers on the road took a tumble after his coaches left him in the game for all 60 minutes, even with the Lightning trailing by five goals in the second period.
According to the NHL betting odds, the series price for the Avalanche has moved from -175 to -600 since the series started while Tampa Bay’s odds fell from +155 to +450. Bettors are jumping on the Avalanche vs Lightning Game 3.
Avalanche vs Lightning Game Information
- Matchup: Avalanche (56-19-7 in the regular season) Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
- Day/Time: Monday, 8:00 p.m. ET
- Television: ABC
Youth Being Served for the Colorado Avalanche
The lack of experience in the Stanley Cup Finals was thought to be something that could slow the surge for a Colorado Avalanche team that has been the favorite to win the Stanley Cup championship for the first time in more than two decades.
Eleven Colorado players who had never played in the Stanley Cup Finals already have points in the series led by Mikko Rantanen’s five assists and three goals from Valeri Nichushkin. Andre Burakovsky (two goals, one assist), Andrew Cogliano (two assists in Game 2 after missing Game 1 due to injury), Artturi Lehkonen (one goal), and Darren Helm (one goal and 22 hits) have looked like players with previous Stanley Cup Finals experience.
There are some questions about the status of Burakovsky after he was hit in the hand while blocking a shot in Game 2. If he can’t go, that will certainly impact Game 3 of the Avalanche vs Lightning series.
The Avalanche have not trailed during the first two games of the season and have led 82:58 and are now two wins away from winning the franchise’s first NHL title since 2001.
Unlike in Game 1 when a brief flurry of offense allowed Tampa Bay to rally from two goals down to tie the game, there were no comebacks or easing up in Game 2. Goalie Darcy Kuemper needed to make only 16 saves including just seven at even strength.
All of this was done while playing without second-line center Nazem Kadri who appears to be close to a return. He would add another dynamic offensive player to a team already rolling on offense. Kadri hasn’t played since Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against Edmonton after being pushed into the boards by Evander Kane.
Despite killing off just 74 percent of the power-play opportunities, Colorado has outscored its opponents 36-20 in seven road games. That success on the road will determine whether the Avalanche will turn this into another short series or if the Lightning can make this a competitive series.
It is Now or Never for the Two-Time Defending Champion Lightning
The Tampa Bay Lightning was 17-0 following losses heading into the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay was 7-0 with three overtime victories during the 2020 playoffs. They were also 7-0 after losses a year ago as the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Dial it up tonight for Avalanche vs Lightning Game 3.
That run ended when the New York Rangers won the first two games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Tampa Bay promptly won the next four games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third year in a row.
The task will be much tougher against Colorado heading into Game 3 of the Avalanche vs Lightning series. Goaltending was probably the biggest question mark with the Colorado Avalanche heading into the Stanley Cup Finals.
Darcy Kuemper had to deal with an eye injury suffered in the sweep of the Nashville Predators and also missed the final three games of the Edmonton series. He was merely OK in Game 1. Tampa Bay put very little pressure on a goalie who posted save percentages under .900 in four of the previous five games. Kuemper only needed to make 16 saves for his first shutout in the odds to win Stanley Cup since he ironically blanked the team he is currently playing for in Game 3 of a 2014 first-round series.
Tampa Bay’s playoff experience was supposed to be one of the advantages for the Lightning coming into the series, however, some of the numbers for the most game-tested Lightning players in this series are not good. Defenseman and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman has a -4 defensive rating. Fellow two-time Cup winner Ondřej Palátis -3 while Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Ryan McDonagh are all -2.
Eight of Tampa Bay’s 18 skaters have one shot or less in the first two games. The only category where Tampa Bay held an edge in Game 2 was with 57 hits and that is also an indication that Colorado had the puck enough to be on the receiving end of that many hits.
Tampa Bay tried to change its fortunes in an effort to rile up the Avalanche players with the hope of getting some power-play time; however, the Lightning managed to draw just three power-play opportunities while Colorado was 2 for 4 with the man advantage.
Tampa Bay has been outshot 68-39 in the first two games of the series. That will need to change when the scene shifts to Amalie Arena.
Avalanche vs Lightning Betting Analysis
When the playoffs started, much of the talk centered around the Tampa Bay Lightning’s chances to become the first team since the New York Islanders in the early 1980s to win three straight Stanley Cup championships. If Tampa Bay loses on Monday night, they will be facing a different kind of history as the last reigning champion to be swept the following year in the Stanley Cup Finals were the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.
The Lightning came into the series having drawn the most power-play opportunities in this year’s playoffs, however, Tampa Bay is 0 for 6 on the power play in the series. It would be a huge help for Tampa Bay’s dangerous power play to be utilized a bit more now that the series shifts to the Sunshine State.
The total for the game is at six goals for the third game in a row. Each of the last two games went over that total. Perhaps the teams will finally engage in a low-scoring affair.
After winning the first two games, the best odds to win the Stanley Cup are now showing Colorado at +225 to win the series in five games and +250 to complete a four-game sweep. The best odds for Tampa Bay is +800 to win the series in seven games. Don’t be looking for another 7-0 game with the Lightning playing at home and wanting to avoid going down 0-3 at all costs.
After both regular-season games and Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Finals were decided by one goal, Colorado erupted for a seven-goal win.
Six of the last eight games between the teams had been decided by one goal. Six of the last seven games featured at least seven goals scored. Colorado has won four of the last six road games against Tampa Bay although the Avalanche has played just eight games in Tampa Bay since the start of the 2012-13 season.Follow us on Twitter