A three-goal explosion in just over seven minutes of the second period saw the Tampa Bay Lightning cut the series deficit in half after easing to a 6-2 victory on Monday night.
NHL betting lines took notice of Tampa’s comprehensive Game 3 victory, as their odds shrank from +450 to +240 overnight. Still decisive favorites, NHL playoff odds have the Avs at -303 to reach their ultimate goal.
Like Logan O’Connor on Ross Colton late in Game 3, it feels like momentum has never swung as wildly as it has in the 2022 NHL playoffs.
On the back of inflicting the worst playoff defeat on the defending Stanley Cup champions in their illustrious history, the Avs sauntered into Tampa Bay with thoughts squarely on keeping their flawless road record intact.
Menacing clouds enveloped the Tampa Bay skyline before Game 3, mirroring the doom-and-gloom media coverage shrouding Jon Cooper’s team since their infamous Game 2 shellacking.
Thanks to a few magnificent and timely Andrei Vasilevskiy toe saves and a sheer collective unwillingness to give up on their extraordinary three-peat aspirations, the Lightning found a way to prevail in the must-win scenario.
Game 4: Avs vs. Lightning Odds, Moneyline, Over/Under
Moneyline: Avs (-110) | Lightning (-110)
Spread: Avs -1.5 (+220) | Lightning +1.5 (-278)
Total: 6 Over -105 | 6 Under -115
Avs vs. Lightning Analysis
Tampa Bay improved to 8-1 at Amalie Arena, extending their home winning streak to eight games. They have outscored opponents 33-13 during the current streak, their longest winning run on home ice in the playoffs.
Remember, this is a team that was a single shot away from being eliminated in the first round. That night they triumphed in overtime of Game 6 against the Maple Leafs. Brayden Point scored the overtime goal, which secured what was then their second in a row on home ice.
The Lightning ended Colorado’s air of road invincibility despite starting woefully for the third time running. The Avs had a goal called back due to offside, went up a goal thanks to Gabriel Landeskog and, had it not been for you-know-who’s heroics, would have added to their early lead.
Prior to facing Colorado in the Stanley Cup Final, Tampa Bay dominated those pivotal moments throughout the first three rounds.
Vasilevskiy returned to the finest version of himself, making 37 saves for a .949 save percentage. In nine home games thus far, Vasilevskiy has a 1.73 goals-against average, and a gobsmacking .947 save percentage.
Despite winning by four goals, the Avs had their best expected goals outcome (6.68) of the series and made life extremely difficult for Vasilevskiy. The Avs finished with 2.35 expected goals more than the Lightning.
Vasilevskiy obtained an outrageous 4.68 goals saved above expected thanks to saves like the one below.
Hello, we'd like to report a robbery. pic.twitter.com/X6KOd49GaL
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 21, 2022
That was one of two otherworldly toe stops, the other coming in the first period when the game was still scoreless.
Darcy Kuemper was chased after allowing five on 22 shots. He finished the night on the exact opposite side of the spectrum, with a dismal -1.96 goals saved above expected.
At the risk of sounding repetitive, Vasilevskiy will almost invariably be the 2022 Conn Smythe winner if the Lightning overcome the odds and win their third successive Stanley Cup.
The Avs, who scored both goals with the man advantage, are 5-for-11 on the power-play in the first three games of the final. That is a foreboding prospect for a Tampa team trying to emulate their Eastern Conference Final comeback.
The Avs were bound to lose at least one road playoff game, so it’s fitting it came against the playoffs’ best home team.
Tampa Bay still needs to find a way to decrease the number of high-quality chances they’re conceding. Although, after seeing Colorado create chances at will throughout the playoffs, maybe even the back-to-back Cup champs aren’t able to impede Jared Bednar’s bulldozing avalanche.
The 6-2 goal today was the 22nd this series, the most through three games played in a Stanley Cup Final in 40 years – the Islanders (15) and Canucks (9) combined for 24 through three contests in 1982.#NHLStats: https://t.co/WF3XQy7NMn https://t.co/yX8BPlXc3C
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 21, 2022
Like Game 3, Wednesday evening’s contest at Amalie Arena will be determined by the play of both netminders. If Vasilevskiy enjoys an encore performance, the Lightning will level the series going back to the Mile High City.
If not, the Avs will take a commanding 3-1 series lead and have the chance to wrap it all up in Colorado on Friday night.
Based on historical context and Vasilevskiy’s demigod-like ability, back the Lightning to prevail in a much closer contest.
Avs vs. Lightning Game 4 Best Bets
Spread: Lightning +1.5 (-278)
Moneyline: Lightning (-110)
Total: Over 6 (-105)
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