Can the Tampa Bay Lightning force a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final?
June 26, 2022
The Colorado Avalanche have a second chance to close out the two-time defending champs
Avalanche at Lightning
Amalie Arena – Tampa, FL
8:00 PM ET
SuperBook Line: Colorado -113 | Tampa Bay +103
Remember when the Avalanche beat the Lightning by a 7-0 count in Game 2? At that point, it seemed like a formality that Colorado would be hoisting the Stanley Cup. Even the two-time defending champs couldn’t recover from that type of shellacking.
Oh, how things have changed. Tonight, Tampa Bay has a chance to draw even in the series and force a winner-take-all Game 7 on Tuesday night.
Since getting embarrassed on national television, the Lightning have been a different team. They’ve gotten back to playing their brand of hockey.
In part, that’s because they’ve been able to score first in all three games since the blowout. When they do, Tampa Bay is able to pack their defense in front of the goal and rely on Andrei Vasilevskiy to hold Colorado’s potent offense at bay.
It’s a formula that has worked to perfection. In the last three games, the Lightning have held the Avalanche to just two goals in regulation. It’s no coincidence that they won two of the three contests to get back into the series.
Can they do it again tonight? There’s plenty of reasons to believe they can.
First and foremost, Tampa Bay has a distinct advantage in net. Vasilevskiy is one of the best in the business, while Darcy Kuemper is a middle-of-the-pack goaltender. And in the playoffs, the Avs goalie hasn’t even lived up to that moniker.
Kuemper has a save percentage of just .898 in the postseason. That’s 15th amongst the 19th goalies who’ve seen action it the NHL Playoffs.
Thus, it’s likely that Kuemper will allow one past him before Vasilevskiy does on the other end. And if that’s the case, the Lightning can retract into their defense-first mode and try to win a low-scoring game.
Tampa Bay had won eight straight at home prior to its overtime loss in Game 4. It’s hard to imagine they’ll drop back-to-back games at Amalie Arena.
The momentum is with the Lightning. The Stanley Cup Final is going seven.