The Lightning on Life Support
The Tampa Bay Lightning has faced adversity before in this year’s playoffs. They needed to win the last two games against Toronto in the opening round of the playoffs to advance and dropped the first two games to the New York Rangers. All that said, none of those challenges compares to what faces the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions as we look ahead in the Lightning vs Avalanche Game 5 preview.
Tampa Bay needs to beat Colorado three times in a row beginning with Friday’s Game 5. Two of those contests would be on the road. With a roster full of players who know what it takes to skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup lifted over their heads, the Lightning won’t be flustered by the scenario they are in.
It would be a huge boost if forward Brayden Point can play on Friday. Point returned for the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. Defenseman Erik Cernak left Game 4 due to injury so his status needs to be monitored as well along with that of Colorado forward Andre Burakovsky. Burakovsky is one of two current Colorado players who has won the Stanley Cup. Their availability will impact this NHL game preview.
Colorado is 3-1 in elimination games in this year’s playoffs with three of those four games decided by one goal. Tampa Bay survived two elimination games in the first round of the playoffs against Toronto winning Game 6 in overtime by a 4-3 score and taking Game 7, 2-1.
Colorado is 7-2 at home in the postseason and has outscored its opponents 40-23 in those games. The Avalanche is +14.7 in shots on goal on home ice in the playoffs. Tampa Bay is 5-6 on the road.
Betting odds for Stanley Cup list series price for Colorado have moved from -320 to -1400 after Game 4. Tampa Bay’s odds went from +260 to +800. Colorado (-175) is favored to wrap things up on home ice on Friday.
Lightning vs Avalanche Game Information
- Game: Lightning (51-23-8 in the regular season) Avalanche (56-19-7)
- Location: Ball Arena, Denver
- Day/Time: Friday, 8:15 p.m. ET
- Television: ABC
Lightning Ready to Prove Naysayers Wrong Again
Tampa Bay wasn’t favored to rally past the Toronto Maple Leafs and doubters were rather vocal when the Lightning was outscored 9-4 in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
The degree of difficulty has gone up but if the 2020 and 2021 playoffs proved nothing else, they showed that counting out the Lightning is a risky proposition. That is a part of the Lightning vs Avalanche Game 5 preview.
After winning Game 3 on home ice, Tampa Bay pushed back once again in Game 4. Both teams had chances but in the end, the momentum turned in Colorado’s favor in the final seven minutes of overtime.
Shots on goal were 10-3 in favor of the visiting Avalanche. Attempted shots in the extra session ended up 18-8 after Tampa Bay had the early 5-2 advantage. It ended when Nazem Kadri, playing in his first game this season, roofed a shot that eluded Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The numbers in the first two games in the series played in Denver are not good for the Lightning. Shots on goal were 68-39 and that doesn’t factor in the 46 blocked shots by Tampa Bay. Colorado outscored Tampa Bay 6-1 in the first period. The Lightning is 0 for 6 on the power play compared to 3 for 7 for the Avalanche.
Tampa Bay will need to find the balance of using physical play to disrupt the Avalanche star players without putting Colorado on the power play too often.
Colorado is 39-7-4 at home counting the playoffs so this won’t be easy, however, the one game at a time mantra has worked fine for the Lightning during past playoff runs.
Avalanche Welcome Back Kadri
Nazem Kadri didn’t get to take part in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during six of his first seven NHL seasons. He was suspended in two other postseasons during his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now, when he was on a team in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This time the tables were turned. It was not an ill-advised hit by Kadri that sidelined the talented but controversial forward but a hit he suffered. Edmonton’s Evander Kane sent Kadri into the boards in Game 3 of a four-game sweep of the Oilers. Kadri underwent thumb surgery and seemed to be on the verge of missing the Stanley Cup Finals.
Less than three weeks after undergoing surgery on his injured thumb, Kadri returned in glorious fashion.
Two of the first three shots Kadri took in the game missed the net. His final shot attempt went under the bar and eluded Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy at 12:02 of overtime.
The on-ice officials did not see the puck go into the net, however, the players on the ice immediately began to signal that Kadri ended the contest. After a video review, the celebration continued as Colorado took a 3-1 lead in the series to set the stage in the Lighting vs Avalanche Game 5 preview.
Kadri led Colorado in faceoffs taken and won during the regular season; but to avoid further issues with his thumb, he did not take any faceoffs during the game.
Kadri did not look rusty at all when he lifted a shot past Vasilevsky as Colorado improved to 5-1 in overtime games and 6-1 in one-goal affairs.
“Sitting here right now it’s kind of surreal,” Kadri said after the game. “I just was excited to join the team again and be in the dressing room. This is what I’ve been working on my whole life pretty much, so it was certainly exciting to get back in the lineup.”
Lightning vs Avalanche Betting Analysis
Colorado has been the best home team in the NHL this season when factoring in the regular season and playoffs with a +89 goal differential. The odds are not in Tampa Bay’s favor. For the tide to turn the underdog Lightning must figure out a way to win Game 5, they can even the series with a win at home.
Five of the last seven games between the teams have been decided by one goal with Colorado winning four of those games. Colorado has won the last three home games against Tampa Bay, including a 7-0 victory in Game 2.
Seven of the last nine matchups had at least seven combined goals scored with seven of them going over the total. Colorado hasn’t lost consecutive games to Tampa Bay in the same season since dropping all three contests during the 2017-18 season.
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 5.45 goals-against average in the two games played in Colorado during this season compared to a 1.48 GAA by Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper at Ball Arena in the series.
The Conn Smythe Trophy odds favor Colorado defenseman Cale Makar who leads Colorado with 27 points in the postseason. Other defensemen to win the award are Montreal’s Serge Savard, Boston’s Bobby Orr, Al MacInnis of Calgary, Brian Leetch of the New York Rangers, Scott Stevens of New Jersey, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer of Anaheim, Chicago’s Duncan Keith and Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman.Follow us on Twitter