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Mark Ross takes a look ahead to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Colorado Avalanche close in on victory. Can the free-scoring side seal the deal back on home soil?

Is there any better feeling than coming back from injury to score the game-winner, in overtime, in a Stanley Cup Finals match to give your team a 3-1 series lead? That’s exactly what happened for Colorado Avalanche centreman, Nazem Kadri. After not playing since June 4th against the Edmonton Oilers, Kadri came back for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals and scored the Avalanche’s third goal of the night as they secured a 3-2 overtime win and will now take the series back to Colorado with a chance to win the Stanley Cup in Game 5.

The Avalanche are now massively favoured to take the gigantic trophy back to Colorado and are priced at 1/20. Compared to the Tampa Bay Lightning at 8/1. Tampa Bay now has to win three straight games in the finals if they want to lift the trophy for a third successive time. A rare feat that hasn’t been done since the Toronto Maple Leafs came back against the Detroit Red Wings in the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals. A huge task, given how dominant the Colorado Avalanche has been throughout the 2022 playoffs. Two out of the potential three remaining games will be played in front of a home crowd for the Avalanche. Colorado has lost two home games in a series already this season. In round two of the Western Conference playoffs, the St Louis Blues took Games 2 and at the home of the Avalanche. Unfortunately, they couldn’t combine the away wins with any home wins and succumbed to a 4-2 deficit. If they lose at home then they tend to win away. In these playoffs, the Avalanche have only lost one road game, which came against the Lightning in Game 3. It seems unlikely that they will also lose a home game in the same series. But you never know.

Before we get into the build-up of Game 5, let’s have a quick look at how the Avalanche got their 3-1 series lead. In what was a low-scoring affair for this series it was Anthony Cirelli who opened the scoring just 36 seconds into Game 4. It was the first time that the Lightning had opened the scoring in these Finals. Just the start they needed as they managed to hold on to the lead until the second period.

Just over five minutes into the second period, Nathan MacKinnon had his skate in the right place at the right time. Mikko Rantanen fired a shot at Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who made the initial save. Unfortunately, the puck bounced off the goalie and right onto the skate of McKinnon before crossing the goal line. Thus giving McKinnon his first goal of these finals and leveling the crucial Game 4 at 1-1. Tampa Bay didn’t need to wait long before getting their second lead of the match. In yet another first, Victor Hedman scored his first backhand shot of the season five minutes after the Avalanche leveled the game. Hedman collected the puck in his own territory and weaved his way through the Avalanche defence before firing a quick backhand shot across the face of Darcy Kuemper giving his team the lead.

In the third period, it was more deflection worries for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilievskiy made an initial save, but the rebound shot from Andrew Cogliano went off Nico Sturm and nestled into the lightning goal. Several scoring chances came and went for both teams as nobody could find the game-winner in the third period. For the 15th time of these Stanley Cup playoffs, we were headed to overtime. Tampa Bay dominated throughout the game as they had 36 shots compared to just 27 for the Avalanche.

Unfortunately, shots don’t matter unless they end up in the back of the net. At the 12:02 mark of overtime Kadri struck. Kadri took the assist from Artturi Lehkonen and weaved across the front of the Lightning before firing at the goal before the puck vanished. A few seconds later the officials realized that the puck had got stuck in the roof of the net and Kadri had scored the game-winner. Avalanche players rushed onto the ice to celebrate the Game 4 win in front of the losing fans. A 3-1 series lead is huge and has only been overcome once, as previously mentioned. Can the Lightning do the unthinkable and mount a comeback, or will it be the case that the Lightning does only strike once and the comeback will fall short?

We missed with our bet that the first period would be the highest scoring, but at 9/4 odds if you went with period two you would still have made some money.

Heading into Game 5, the Lightning will need to win in front of the Avalanche fans. Something they have failed to do in this series. At 2/1 odds they are the outsiders to win this game as the Avalanche are highly favoured at 10/11. Colorado has won their two home games with a combined score of 11-3, after the 7-0 thrashing they provided in Game 2. Colorado is 10/11 on the puck line at minus 0.5 compared to the Lightning who are at 3/4 for plus 0.5. In front of their home crowd, with a chance to lift the Stanley Cup, I expect the Avalanche to run out winners and would take them at 11/8 to win by at least 1.5 goals. Game 4 has been the lowest-scoring affair with only five goals but Game 5 is bound to be a bit cagey given the implications for both teams. Look for a more defensive display and the total goals to be under 4.5. At 2/1 odds, total goals under 4.5 look like a decent bet. On the other hand, the Avalanche score for fun and might just blow the Lightning away? But, the chance to win your third Stanley Cup ever might just be playing in the back of the Avalanche player’s minds and force them to be a bit more cautious.

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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