Colorado Looking to Rebound After Worst Loss of Postseason
Teams don’t win back-to-back NHL Finals Stanley Cup titles by being easily flustered. Tampa Bay is ready to display its resiliency in the Avalanche vs Lightning Game 4, on Wednesday night.
Another squad might have struggled to bounce back after a 7-0 loss in the previous outing; however, the Tampa Bay Lightning have proven that they are no ordinary team over the last three postseasons.
Ondrej Palat, the franchise leader in game-winning goals in the playoffs, came through again with the tying goal after the first of two Gabriel Landeskog goals gave Colorado the early lead in a pivotal game in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Colorado was 7-0 on the road before the most lopsided loss it has been dealt during this postseason. Tampa Bay improved to 8-1 at home. After relatively tame contests in Games 1 and 2 from a penalty standpoint; things heated up with 10 power-play opportunities and a combined total of 58 penalty minutes. That included 38 penalty minutes in the last 7:57 of the game. That should set the stage for what could be a feisty Game 4.
According to the NHL betting lines, the series price for the favored Avalanche moved -600 to -320 after Game 3. Tampa Bay’s odds went from +450 to +260. The top odds have Colorado winning the series in five games as that comes in at +225 followed by the Avalanche eliminating Tampa Bay in six games at +275. The best odds for Tampa Bay is to win in seven games that have a payout of +500. As for Game 4, the odds favor the Tampa Bay Lightning odds to win.
Avalanche vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Avalanche (56-19-7 in the regular season) Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
- Television: ABC
Colorado Fails to Capitalize on Early lead
One of the keys to victory for Colorado in each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals wasn’t so much that Colorado scored the first game, but that the Avalanche also had the second goal of the game to force the Tampa Bay Lightning to play catch up.
When Gabriel Landeskog scored a power-play goal at 8:19 of the first period to open the scoring in Game 3, it was looking like business as usual. The Avalanche was 8-1 when scoring first in this year’s playoffs. By the time Landeskog scored again, the Avalanche was trailing by two goals. It was something new because Colorado didn’t trail in either of the first two games.
The Lightning come alive: Less than three minutes later the goal by the Colorado captain was countered by his Tampa Bay counterpart when Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning. Pat Maroon and Corey Perry added goals to put the Lightning up by four goals at the end of the second period.
In Game 4 of the Avalanche vs Lightning series, the Avalanche wants to force Tampa Bay to play from behind once again.
After putting little pressure on Colorado goalie Darcy Kuemper in Game 2, they chased the Avalanche goalie who was pulled… starting goalie Darcy Kuemper wasn’t there for the end of the second period. He was pulled after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Pavel Francouz, who was undefeated after coming in for an injured Kuemper in two different playoff series, stopped nine of the 10 shots he saw. That leaves a question of which goalie will be in net in Game 4. If Jared Bednar knew which way he was leaning for Game 4, he wasn’t revealing that info after Game 3.
Neither Kuemper nor Francouz has gaudy numbers in the playoffs. Kuemper has a 2.76 goals against average and Francouz’s GAA is 2.81.
Lightning Needs More Home Cooking
The Tampa Bay Lightning viewed Game 3 as a must-win affair even if it wouldn’t have eliminated the reigning champions if they lost. Going down 0-3 to a team as good as Colorado would be pretty close to the end of the road for Tampa Bay’s hopes for a 3-peat. The same sense of urgency will need to be displayed in Game 4 of the Avalanche vs Lightning series because a loss would force Tampa Bay to have to beat Colorado three games in a row including two on the road to win it all.
While Tampa Bay was outshot for the third game in a row, the ice wasn’t tilted quite as much in Colorado’s favor. The 27 blocked shots and 43-31 advantage on faceoffs gave Tampa more possession time in the Colorado end. Two-time Cup-winning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy took care of the rest by turning aside 37 of 39 shots.
“We knew that this was a pretty much a must-win game for us,” Stamkos said. “So I thought we played like it. I thought our attention to detail was a lot better and the game plan, not that it changed too much, but we executed it. So a way better effort for our group.”
The veterans led the way. Stamkos, Palat, and Pat Maroon each had a goal and an assist while Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman added two assists.
Avalanche vs Lightning Betting Analysis
There are plenty of injury concerns for both teams. Brayden Point missed Game 3 after returning for the first two games of the series for Tampa Bay. He was injured in Game 7 against Toronto and his teammates took care of business in eliminating the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers without the player who was the team’s leading goal scorer in the playoffs in both the 2020 and 2021 postseasons. Now, Kucherov is dealing with a lower-body injury. Kucherov is the team leader with 26 points in the playoffs. Colorado is still waiting for the return of Nazem Kadri, and Andre Burakovsky.
Colorado will need to do a better job on faceoffs. Landeskog won 12 of his 20 draws, but the other three centers were a combined 12 of 26 and that is not a recipe for success. After the first two games were played mostly at even strength, there were 58 penalty minutes and 10 power plays in the game. That style of play most certainly benefits Tampa Bay more than Colorado.
After the Lightning and Avalanche played four consecutive one-goal games, the last two contests have been decided by seven and four goals. Seven of the last eight contests had at least seven combined goals scored with seven of those matchups going over the total. Tampa Bay snapped a four-game losing streak to Colorado in the Monday night win. Colorado hasn’t lost consecutive games to Tampa Bay in the same season since dropping all three contests during the 2017-18 season.Follow us on Twitter