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Avalanche vs. Lightning Game 3 Odds, Pick, Prediction: Tampa Bay Can Get Back Into Stanley Cup Final (June 20)

Avalanche vs. Lightning Game 3 Odds, Pick, Prediction: Tampa Bay Can Get Back Into Stanley Cup Final (June 20) article feature image
Credit:

Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Andrei Vasilevskiy (No. 88).

  • The Avalanche look to take a commanding lead tonight in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final over the Lightning.
  • Colorado was a heavy favorite in both games at home, but it's close to a pick'em tonight in Tampa Bay.
  • Carol Schram previews the matchup and shares her best bet below.

Avalanche vs. Lightning Odds

Avalanche Odds -105
Lightning Odds -115
Over/Under 6 (+110 / -130)
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV ABC/ESPN+
Odds via PointsBet. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Will a scene shift reset the 2022 Stanley Cup Final?

The Colorado Avalanche outscored the Tampa Bay Lightning 11-3 to take a 2-0 series lead on home ice and now the Lightning will be looking to show that they’re not ready to hand over their title as they return home to Amalie Arena.

Down 0-2 two weeks ago to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final, the Lightning turned that series around and reeled off four straight wins.

Do they have one more comeback in them, or is the Avs’ skill and speed too much to overcome?

Here’s the latest on both teams and your best bet for the game.

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Colorado Avalanche

Back in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since winning it all in 2001, the Avalanche have looked dominant through the first two games of the series.

They’ve outshot Tampa Bay by a combined total of 68-39. They’ve controlled more than 61% of the scoring chances at 5-on-5 and nearly 73% of expected goals. They’re 3-for-7 on the power play and a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill — and throw in a shorthanded breakaway goal from Cale Makar, to boot.

Colorado has been getting balanced scoring from up and down its lineup. Mikko Rantanen is leading the way in the final with five assists in two games, followed by four points from a resurgent Valeri Nichushkin and three from Andre Burakovsky.

Burakovsky has been dealing with an injury he sustained in the Western Conference Final against Edmonton. He left Saturday’s Game 2 early in the second period and opted for more treatment rather than joining his team on the charter to Tampa on Sunday. He is expected to travel on Monday and has not been ruled out for Game 3.

Injured Nazem Kadri did fly with the team and has recently been practicing with a stick. But it’s still unknown when he’ll be ready to return to game action after undergoing hand surgery during the Western Conference Final.

Veteran forward Andrew Cogliano returned to the Avalanche lineup following a hand injury of his own and made an immediate impact in Game 2. The 35-year-old, who also went to the Final against the Lightning when he was with the Dallas Stars in 2020, logged two assists and his team enjoyed a 62% share of expected goals during his 12:55 of ice time.

Tampa Bay Lightning

For the second time in as many rounds, the Tampa Bay Lightning have opened a playoff series with back-to-back road losses.

Now, they’ll need to win four of five games against an impressive Colorado squad in order to realize their dream of winning three straight championships.

Tampa Bay is 7-1 on home ice in these playoffs, with the only loss coming in Game 3 of Round 1 against Toronto. Since the Lightning dispatched the Maple Leafs, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has allowed just five goals in his past five starts at Amalie Arena.

The Lightning need their 2021 Conn Smythe winner to return to form if they hope to climb back into this series. Goaltending was assumed to be a strength for Tampa Bay heading into the final, especially with Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper returning from injury.

As it turns out, Kuemper has been marginally better at 5-on-5 so far, with an .875 save percentage and 0.16 goals saved above average compared to .865 and -0.16 for Vasilevskiy. The differential grows dramatically when all situations are considered: a .923 save percentage and 2.10 goals saved above average for Kuemper compared to .838 and -2.10 for Vasilevskiy.

An MVP-level performance from Vasilevskiy back in Tampa will go a long way toward helping the Lightning get back in this series. But the environment he’s playing in has also been uncharacteristically difficult. Based on the play in front of him, Kuemper’s expected goals number is just 2.8 through two games of the final. When you think of all the odd man rushes that Colorado has generated, it’s no surprise that Vasilevskiy’s expected goals against is at 6.06.

That’s almost identical to the first two games against the Rangers (6.04). The difference is, even in those losses, the Lightning were able to generate 7.49 expected goals against Igor Shesterkin. Tampa Bay scored just four, but was able to elevate its conversion rate as the series went on.

One thing that could help Tampa: being back at sea level. No NHL player wants to admit the thin air in Denver has an impact on his cardiovascular system, but that could have been part of the reason why the defending champions struggled to keep up with Colorado’s pace.

The Lightning will need to move their feet and make quicker decisions if they want to give themselves a chance to win Game 3. The more scoring chances they can generate, the better the likelihood that they’ll get some pucks past Kuemper, whether that’s at even strength or with the man advantage.

Avalanche vs. Lightning Pick

With a record of 14-2, the Colorado Avalanche have been nearly perfect so far in these playoffs. They swept the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers, with their only small hiccup being two losses to the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

After their 7-0 drubbing of the Lightning in Game 2, history suggests that they’re now a virtual lock to win the 2022 Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, after playing more games than any other team over the past three years, fatigue may be a real issue for the Lightning.

But, as Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos said when he faced the media after Game 2, the Lightning are a resilient group that won’t go down without a fight.

The torch may ultimately be passed to the Avalanche this spring, but expect a fired-up crowd in Amalie Arena on Monday. Lightning fans have seen their team turn things around before.

As of Sunday evening, Game 3 is a pick ’em. Look for the home side to give it everything they have and skate away with their first win of the series. However, proceed with extreme caution if the line moves much further in Tampa’s favor.

Pick: Lightning -110 (play to -120)

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