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Tampa Bay Lightning @ Colorado Avalanche NHL Stanley Cup Final 2022 Game Five Predictions & Preview

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Colorado Avalanche NHL Stanley Cup Final 2022 Game Five Predictions & Preview

The Stanley Cup will be in the building Friday night as the Colorado Avalanche host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Ball Arena in Denver. Colorado holds a 3-1 lead in the championship series, most recently winning Game Four in Tampa with a controversial 3-2 overtime score.

Nazem Kadri, who returned to the lineup after undergoing thumb surgery and could hardly grip his stick at times, buried a shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy to seal the win. However, video replay showed the Avs may have had too many skaters on the ice at the time of the goal. The penalty went uncalled and the score held.

With a chip on their shoulder and the season on the line, can the Lightning head into Denver and steal a game on the road? Puck drop on Friday is at 8:00 PM Eastern.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Overview

As the two-time defending champion, the Lightning know what they need to do to keep the series alive. Thus far, they’ve lost two overtime games in the series and suffered the second-largest shutout defeat in Stanley Cup history (7-0) in Game Two, which was also in Colorado.

Nikita Kucherov has a combined 92 points over the past three postseasons, but with no goals and three assists in this series, the Avalanche defense has stifled the star scorer. For the Bolts to stay alive, they’ll need their star to step up.

Between the pipes, Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 3.79 GAA in the series, markedly above his career 2.31 playoff total. He’s also at an .888 save percentage over the past four games, down from his .923 career number. However, few goaltenders are better in high-pressure situations than Vasilevkiy, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last season.

Tampa Bay suffered a big blow to the blue line in Game Four when defenseman Erik Cernak suffered a lower body injury while blocking a shot. Cernak did not return to the game, leaving the Bolts to juggle five defensemen for the remainder of the game. His status for Game Five is questionable, but if he doesn’t go, expect Cal Foote to slot in on the third pairing and Mikhail Sergachev to move up to the second with Ryan McDonagh.

Brayden Point is also questionable to play after missing Games Three and Four. He returned from injury to play Games One and Two but is clearly still dealing with an issue. With the season on the line, Point (38 goals, 40 assists in 76 career playoff games) would be a major addition to the lineup if he’s able to go.

Colorado Avalanche Overview

Colorado is one game away from where many thought they would end up this season. Favorites to win the Cup since the preseason, the Avalanche have dominated opponents all season and are 15-3 this postseason.

Cale Makar, the Conn Smythe favorite at -600, leads all remaining players in points this postseason with seven goals and 20 assists (Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl lead the pack with 33 and 32 points, respectively). He’s netted two goals and three assists in this series alone and should find his way onto the scoresheet Friday as well.

Darcy Kuemper responded in a major way after getting pulled from a 6-2 loss in Game Three, posting a 37-save effort in Game Four. A pending free agent, the 32-year-old should be in for a massive payday this offseason. Colorado’s offense has been their calling card in this series, but they’ll need another big effort from Kuemper to get the job done.

Andre Burakovsky was injured in Game Two and has not played since. While he could return to the lineup, it seems unlikely as of writing, meaning Nico Sturm is likely in the lineup once again. Burakovsky is the only player on the injury report with a shot to play, as Samuel Girard is done for the season with a broken sternum.

Game Prediction

The Avalanche are moneyline favorites at -170 while the Lightning are +145 on the road. The value play here may be Colorado at -1.5 on the puckline, knowing a desperate Tampa Bay team may pull the goaltender for an extra attacker, leading to an empty-net goal for the cover.

In the past 10 Cup-winning games, the under hit eight times. At O/U six goals for this one, the under makes sense here as well.

Our score prediction is 3-1 Avalanche as they clinch the 2022 Stanley Cup.

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