The Colorado Avalanche, after winning their second overtime game of the series, are a win away from securing the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2001.
NHL betting lines lengthened considerably after the Lightning lost Game 4 3-2 in overtime. The Lightning are mammoth +800 long shots to overturn the two-game deficit. The Avs, who play Game 5 in front of their raucous home crowd, are astronomical -1429 favorites, according to NHL playoff odds.
Tampa’s Game 4 defeat was heartbreaking as it was morale destroying, even for a team with such immense pride and self-belief.
The overtime winner by Nazem Kadri, which was shrouded in controversy by Jon Cooper’s too-many-men-on-the-ice protestation, was the most deflating and devastating blow Tampa has ever suffered.
— Mari Faiello (@faiello_mari) June 23, 2022
Lightning vs. Avalanche Odds, Moneyline, Over/Under
Moneyline: Lightning (+150) | Avs (-182)
Spread: Lightning +1.5 (-175) | Avs -1.5 (+145)
Total: 6 Over +100 | 6 Under -120
Lightning vs. Avalanche Analysis
If any team can dust themselves off and recover from such utter dismay, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, the Lightning players, contrary to what their incredible achievements over the last two seasons indicate, are indeed human.
Losing one game by seven goals and two in sudden death overtime is enough to sink even the most buoyant group of champions.
Despite the outlying controversy and nature of the Game 4 result, the Avalanche were fully deserving of the crucial victory.
The Avs recovered exceptionally well after a dominant display from the home side in the first period. The Lightning outshot the visitors 17-4 in the opening 20 minutes, but Colorado rebounded, outshooting the Lightning 33-22 for the remainder of the contest. In overtime, Colorado had 10 shots compared to the Lightning’s three, many of which of a high-grade variety.
Colorado finally got a match-winning performance out of netminder Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 37 of 39 shots for a .949 save percentage.
He also enjoyed a sterling 1.49 goals saved above expected. The Avs netminder, who is 9-3 in the postseason with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .898 save percentage, kept his team in the contest with a superb opening 20 minutes. He stopped 16 of 17 shots, many of which coming from high-danger areas.
Kadri made a hero’s return to the lineup and was yet again the difference maker. He missed 18 days after breaking his thumb against the Oilers and will never forget his storied return to the lineup.
The Avs continued their power-play dominance, scoring on 1 of 2 opportunities. Tampa can’t be faulted for any indiscipline. Unfortunately, they’ve come across a power-play that cannot be suppressed. The Avs are a ludicrously effective 6-for-13 in the final with an extra man, summing up what faces the Lightning in Game 5.
Tampa Bay faces the daunting task of going back to a building that hasn’t been kind to them, adding to the already lengthy list of issues facing the beleaguered club. Outscored 11-3 at Ball Arena in two Stanley Cup Final contests, the Lightning need to somehow find a way to avoid being bombarded in the first 20 minutes, in which they conceded three goals in each of the first two contests.
The Lightning also lost their only regular-season visit to Colorado, a 3-2 setback.
Those struggles in Colorado are compounded by the personnel issues facing Cooper’s team. Erik Cernak left the contest with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot in the second period and his status remains unclear for Friday’s Game 5. Teammate Anthony Cireli is in the same boat after hurting his arm.
Both players are integral to the Lightning’s success and the team, already without Brayden Point for Game 5, can ill-afford to lose either asset.
The Avs are finding their groove at home and have won four straight at Ball Arena, compounding Tampa’s laundry list of problems. The Lightning are also struggling away from Amalie Arena with a 5-6 postseason road record.
It’s a Friday night game in Colorado, so expect the crowd to be vociferous and feverish. Things don’t look good for the Lightning, who are banged up, demoralized and feeling hard done by.
The Avs should take advantage of the environment and momentum they gained from that crucial, if not controversial, Game 4 winner.
Look for Colorado to win Game 5 and lift the Stanley Cup, thereby ending Tampa’s hopes of what would have been a historic three-peat.
Lightning vs. Avalanche Predictions
Spread: Avs -1.5 (+145)
Moneyline: Avs (-182)
Total: Over 6 (+100)