The Colorado Avalanche had to have known it wasn’t going to be that easy. The Avs’ skated out to a 2-0 series lead after two big wins in Denver, but the Tampa Bay Lightning showed that the 2X defending Stanley Cup champions are a little different team at home after Monday’s 6-2 win.
Make no mistake, Colorado is still in a pretty good spot with a 2-1 series lead with the chance to head back to the Rocky Mountains up 3-1, but they also now know that Tampa Bay isn’t going to go down without a fight. The Lightning are -110 favorites, just the same as in Game 3, so oddsmakers haven’t added inflation even after the big win on Monday.
Colorado No Longer Road Immortal
The loss on Monday was Colorado’s first road defeat of these playoffs. Gone was the offense that cruised to a 7-0 victory in Game 2 or even the 4-3 win in the series opener. The Avs’ managed just a couple of Gabriel Landeskog power play goals in letting Tampa Bay creep back into this series.
The Avalanche are still dealing with some injury concerns heading into Game 4, as Andre Burakovsky (hand) remains in Denver and Nazem Kadri (thumb) is doubtful. The bigger concern is a player on the ice but not producing, as Nathan Mackinnon has only put up two assists through three games.
Obviously, another big concern for Jared Bednar is between the pipes, where Darcy Kuemper got the early hook in Game 3 after allowing five goals on 22 shots. Kuemper had a 16 save shutout in Game 2, so it’s not like he’s getting pelted with shots.
Tampa Bay Never Frets
It’s business as usual for the Lightning, who were down 3-2 to the Maple Leafs in the first round before coming back to win in seven and then went down 0-2 to the Rangers before rattling off four straight. Monday’s Game 3 was make or break, and Tampa Bay showed they are here to make this a series.
There are two big issues still facing Tampa Bay as they try to even things up. The first is that they still aren’t getting a ton of shots off, averaging just over 20 per game (to Colorado’s 36). The other concern is that Nikita Kucherov left Game 3 after a cross check, and although he is probable Brayden Point is doubtful (leg).
Avalanche/Lightning Betting Prediction
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 37 of 39 Colorado shots in Game 3, and he remains the biggest reason to back the Lightning. It was an impressive recovery for Vasilevskiy, who allowed seven goals on 30 shots in Game 3.
The resilient veteran netminder did the same thing last round against the Rangers, allowing a total of five goals during Tampa Bay’s four straight wins. When you combine the stability in net for the Lightning as well as some shakiness between the pipes for Colorado, you have to go with the 2X defending champs in this spot.
Pick: Lightning -110