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Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning Game 4 preview and Game Day Thread

Time to duplicate the performance from Game Three

2022 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Four

Location: Amalie Arena

Time: 8:00 PM EST

Broadcast/Streaming: ABC, CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN+

Opponent’s SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

In Game Three finally landed their first big shot of the Stanley Cup Final. After the Avalanche put them on the ropes with a dominating Game Two performance, the return to Tampa proved advantageous as the Bolts survived a first period push (complete with an overturned goal), dominated in the second period, and held on in the third. The win was nice, but at this point, all they did was ensure a Game Five. A win tonight, however, flips the script of the series.

The success in the middle frame was directly tied to their ability to get to the middle of the ice and fire shots on net. They had 15 shot attempts at 5v5 with 11 of them finding their way on or in the net. They produced 6 high-danger chances and scored 3 times. The 6 HDCF were the most they posted in a single period all series long (in fact they only had 9 total in Games One and Two).

It showed that the Colorado defense (and goaltending) can be exploited if the Lightning can maintain possession. The longer they spend in the Avalanche zone the less time they have to worry about Nathan MacKinnon snapping his goalless streak. They managed to hold off the comeback despite getting shelled in the third period (22 shot attempts to 2). Yielding the other team a 91.57 xGF% to the other team is not exactly a path to success.

Expect Colorado to continue their strong start as they’ve absolutely dominated the first periods throughout the first three games. In the opening 20 minutes the Avalanche out attempted the Lightning 76 -53, generated 14 high danger chances to the Bolts 9, and outscored them 7 to 3 in all situations.

One of the main differences from Game Three was that Andrei Vasilevskiy was sharp from the beginning, his save on JT Compher’s rebound attempt was the real turning point of the game. With Vasy making those types of saves (and not allowing any goals at 5v5) it gave the players a little bit more freedom to press their offense, which they did in the second period.

With an optional morning skate on game day, we won’t know exactly how the Lightning are going to handle their recent rash of injuries. Coach Cooper indicated that he’s going to roll out the same line-up that he did in Game Three:

Expect the Avs to target Kucherov, not necessarily physically, but by forcing him to move with the puck. Whatever is ailing him is lower-body related and there is a good chance he won’t have his usual shiftiness.

As for Colorado, Andre Burakovsky is likely still out as he was in Denver as of yesterday. It is possible that Nazem Kadri makes his series debut, but if he does, he won’t be at 100%. The decision Jared Bednar has to make is if Kadri at 75% is better than the options he has in the line-up right now like Nico Strum or Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

He also hasn’t announced his goaltender yet. Darcy Kuemper was let down by his defense in Game Three, but also struggled with some stoppable goals and was fighting off the shots he did stop. Pascal Francouz has been better than Kuemper in the playoffs, but still has posted average numbers. Entering the series he had a .906 SV%, 2.86 GAA, and -1.72 goals saved above average.

No matter who is in net for the Avalanche, the Lightning have to continue to get the pucks on net. Create chaos in front of the net, get to the loose pucks, and keep them on their heels. Win tonight and it’s a best-of-three. A loss puts them on the brink and forces them to have to win three straight with two of the games in Colorado. So, yeah, no pressure.

Tampa Bay Lightning Potential Lines

Forwards

Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov

Brandon Hagel — Anthony Cirelli — Alex Killorn

Nick Paul — Ross Colton— Corey Perry

Patrick Maroon — Pierre-Edoauard Bellemare — Riley Nash

Defense

Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta

Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak

Mikhail Sergachev — Zach Bogosian

Goaltenders

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Brian Elliott

Colorado Avalanche Potential Lines

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin

Artturi Lehkonen — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen

Alex Newhook — Nico Strum — Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O’Connor

Defense

Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Jack Johnson — Josh Manson

Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson

Goaltenders

Pavel Francouz

Darcy Kuemper