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|Tampa Bay Lightning
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The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to tie up the Stanley Cup with a Game Four win at home. The Lightning lost Games One and Two but returned with a vengeance in Game Three. Colorado scored the first goal a little over eight minutes into the First, but Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat struck back and scored two goals a couple of minutes later. Tampa started the Second Period strong and pushed their lead to 3-1 1.5 minutes in. Colorado scored three minutes later but never scored again. The Lightning went on to score three more Second Period goals and win 6-2.
The Colorado Avalanche defense struggled mightily in Game Three. They gave up six goals on 33 shots and did not stand much of a chance. The defensemen need to step up this game and play more intelligent hockey. This defensive effort begins with veteran Devon Toews and youngster Cale Makar. Toews and Makar are first liners and averaging a TOI over 25 minutes. If they play strong hockey, they will set the tone for the second and third line defensemen.
Darcy Kuemper has gotten all three Stanley Cup starts in net. He played well in Games One and Two but could not make a save in Game Three. It is unclear if Kuemper or backup goaltender Pavel Francouz will get the start in Game Four, but it also does not matter. They are similarly good netminders and need to bring their A-game in what is likely the biggest game of their career.
The Tampa Bay Lightning need to find that offensive spark once again in Game Four. They struggled without it in Games One and Two but showed that they can be the best team in the league with it in Game Four. That spark will have to come from Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat. If these three veterans enter the game with the right energy and mindset, the Tampa offense will have no trouble scoring.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was a brick wall in Game Three. He only gave up two goals on 39 shots and did not give Colorado a chance. Vasilevksiy is Tampa’s x-factor and the reason the Lightning are in the Stanley Cup.
This game will not be a blowout, but the hometown Tampa Bay Lightning will win it. They have only lost one home game in the Playoffs, and their home crowd brings the best out of them.
|Tampa Bay Lightning
|56-19-7 (1st in Central Division)
|51-23-8 (3rd in Atlantic Division)
|Cale Makar (26)
|Nikita Kucherov (26)
|Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog (11)
|Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos (10)
|Cale Makar, Mikko Rantanen (19)
|Nikita Kucherov (19)
|Gabriel Landeskog (14)
|Ondrej Palat (8)
|Nathan MacKinnon (5.65)
|Shots (Per Game)
|Nikita Kucherov (3.35)
Even though the Colorado Avalanche lost Game Three, they are the favorites to win Game Four. However, they will only do so if they draw penalties and score the first goal.
The Avalanche’s two Game Three goals were scored on the power-play. Colorado is now scoring over ⅓ of their Playoff power-play attempts. They need to continue drawing power-plays because they will score at least once with a man advantage.
The Avalanche did not have what it takes in Game Three, but that does not mean they cannot rebound in Game Four. However, if they want to leave Tampa victorious, they need to score the first goal. If they strike first, they will set the tone for the rest of the game and be in the driver’s seat.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the underdogs but will win if they slow down Gabriel Landeskog and shoot as much as possible.
Gabriel Landeskog scored both of Colorado’s Game Four goals. He has 11 goals in 17 Playoff games and has shown that he can put the puck in the back of the net. The Lightning defensemen need to be aware of his skill and slow him down as much as possible.
The Lightning were very efficient in Game Three; they managed to score six goals on only 33 shots. They have to keep on shooting and take advantage of whatever mistakes the Avalanche’ goaltenders make.
Nathan MacKinnon is an incredibly talented player but has been quiet in the Stanley Cup. MacKinnon has two assists and no goals in three games, but he continues to shoot the puck. His performance in Game Three was particularly bad, as he finished with zero goals, zero assists, and a +/- of -2.
MacKinnon needs to take better shots and make smarter plays on the ice. He can be the Avalanche’s x-factor if he makes the right plays.
Steven Stamkos is the captain of this older Lightning squad. He has been very productive in the Playoffs and in the Stanley Cup. Stamkos had one goal and one assist in Game Three and needs to continue leading this team in Game Four. Tampa Bay is not as good offensively as Colorado, so they need to compensate for it with Stamkos’ leadership.
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|Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lightning Information
|Colorado Avalanche vs Tampa Bay Lightning
|Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
|Wednesday, June 22, 8:00 PM EST
|How to Watch
Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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