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Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning Game 6: preview and Game Day Thread

We actually want the Cup to leave the building.

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

Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning: Game Six

Location: Amalie Arena

Time: 8:00 PM EST

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

Opponent’s SBNation Site: Mile High Hockey

The Tampa Bay Lightning avoided elimination in Game 5 on Friday night, defeating the Colorado Avalanche i n their own rink for the first time this season. Tonight’s goal is to extend this series for couple of days and force Game 7 in front of their fans at Amalie Arena.

The determination and experience of the Lightning’s players isn’t disputed at this stage. As Alex Killorn mentioned couple of times during this postseason, there are not many situations that this group haven’t been through. Jon Cooper also noted yesterday that the Bolts are better equipped in these situations due to their experience.

The biggest question ahead of tonight’s game, however, is if the Lightning have enough fuel to go for another couple of games. The fatigue and injuries have been piling up massively: we all know that many players have been playing literally through the pain. Anthony Cirelli for example is probably playing with just one hand after his injury in Game 4 — in the last game his time on the ice dropped from usual 20 minutes per game to just 11:46, while he also didn’t take any faceoff on that night. Erik Cernak is also far from his 100% form after blocking dozens of shots throughout this postseason.

The Lightning have improved their 5-on-5 performance since the opening games of the series and this matchup has been pretty even in these situations in recent games. What makes the difference is special units and the Lightning have been unusually mediocre there.

Since the start of SCF, the Lightning scored just two power play goals, despite having 18 opportunities in five games. On the other side Colorado converted on six out of 15 power play chances, scoring at least one power play goal in four out of five games. The previous game was the best for the Lightning’s penalty kill, as they didn’t allow a single goal for the first time against Colorado.

As we anticipated, the goaltending duel is another key factor in this final. After two poor games early in the series, Andrei Vasilevskiy elevated his game, becoming the backbone of this team as we are used to seeing him in significant games. Darcy Kuemper hasn’t been consistent as his goalie opponent: after very strong Game 4, he recorded -1.15 GSAx in the latest game. Jared Bednar, however, is confident in his goalie, although he mentioned yesterday that he’d like to see Kuemper to get his first goal.

As we’re awaiting tonight’s game, there’s no information on if Brayden Point will be available. Jon Cooper isn’t willing to play Point until he’s healthy, preferring Riley Nash over him. The fourth line with Nash has been very effective lately, not allowing much during their shifts.

The Avalanche Andre Burakovsky remains a “possibility“ for tonight’s game after missing three previous games due to hand injury. He travelled with the team to Tampa. Val Nichushkin and J.T. Compher, who were banged up a little bit after Game 5, will play tonight.

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-Edouard 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

Artturi Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog — Nazem Kadri — Valeri Nichushkin

Alex Newhook — J.T. Compher — Logan O’Connor

Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Nico Strum

Defense

Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Jack Johnson — Josh Manson

Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson

Goaltenders

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz