The Colorado Avalanche have made their run through the NHL playoffs look easy. After an eight-day break they opened the Stanley Cup final with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning for their sixth straight win improving to 13-2 in the postseason. Don’t hand them the Cup just yet, though. Tampa’s quest for a three-peat started with a loss to Toronto in the opening round. The Lightning also dropped the first two games of the Eastern Conference final, so you could say they have the Avalanche right where they want them. Tampa will look to get even when the clubs meet in Game 2 on Saturday night.
The Stanley Cup final matchup between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche takes place at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 16, 2022, from Ball Arena in Denver and will air live on ABC. BookMaker.eu will have odds for every game of the Stanley Cup finals.
NHL Betting Lines at BookMaker.eu
Tampa Bay Lightning +130
Colorado Avalanche -150
Don’t be too concerned about the result of Game 1. Tampa’s been here many times in their quest for a three-peat and they dealt with opening losses in two of their series. The difference is that they played a strong game on Wednesday rallying from a 3-1 first period deficit to knot the score in the second period. In losing Game 1 to Toronto and New York they were outscored 11-2. For the first time since the opening of Round 2 against Florida the Lightning played as an underdog at +127 on the moneyline. They are dogs again for Game 2 surfacing at +130. They were 4-2 in six previous games when playing as a dog. Tampa allowed at least four goals for only the second time since the end of Round 1 ending a streak of five straight games cashing the UNDER.
Having over a week off in between games didn’t affect Colorado. They started Game 1 with a jump using their speed to offset Tampa’s experience. They scored three times in the opening frame, including a power-play tally from Artturi Lehkonen late in the frame for a 3-1 edge. They didn’t score again until the OT winner, but it was enough. And we knew they’d need to put the puck in the net to win. Colorado scored at least four goals for the eighth time in its last nine games going 7-1 in those games. They also cashed the OVER for the sixth time in nine games while improving to 6-2 on home ice. Including the Western Conference clincher over Edmonton, Colorado has won two straight overtime games and is 4-1 in OT.
Tampa Bay Lightning
It’s never fun to lose, but nobody knows what it takes to emerge from the Stanley Cup playoffs more than the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy has gotten better as each round progressed and that’s the hope again. He wasn’t bad on Wednesday stopping 34 shots, but he had never allowed three first period goals in a playoff game until Wednesday, and two of them were stoppable.
Tampa was burned on the PK by New York last series and allowed a power-play goal in the first period during a 2-man Colorado advantage. Special teams could be a difference-maker and the Lightning have to be better. They went 0 for 3 with the man advantage and have killed just 53 percent of their shorthanded situations since Game 2 of the East final. “We’ve got better in us. I don’t think we gave them our best game,” Jon Cooper said.
Legends are made in the Stanley Cup playoffs and Colorado has one after Game 1. Andre Burakovsky scored 1:23 into overtime sending Colorado to the 4-3 win. The Avalanche also got a goal and an assist from Gabriel Landeskog and two assists from Mikko Rantanen in a three goal first period. Balanced scoring is a way to beat Tampa as is limiting scoring opportunities. Colorado allowed just 23 shots with Darcy Kuemper back in net stopping 20 of them.
It has to be somewhat concerning that as well as Colorado played with long stretches controlling the tempo, they needed OT to get the win. I do expect a better puck control game from Tampa on Saturday and they probably won’t be as generous. The Avalanche have gotten used to winning, though, and that’s contagious. They’ve dropped just two games the entire postseason.
NHL Odds Pick
If the rest of the series is anything like Game 1 we’ll have an epic battle. And we shouldn’t expect anything less from the best team in the West and the two-time defending Cup champs. Vasilevskiy let a few softies past him but we’ve seen him play stellar time after time. He clamped down against Florida and New York and I anticipate he’ll bounce back with another solid game giving Tampa a chance to even the series.
NHL Odds Prediction: Lightning 3, Avalanche 2
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