Mark Ross looks ahead to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Avalanche close in on victory. Can they prevent a Lightning comeback?
It was never going to be straightforward for the Colorado Avalanche to see out the series, was it? Despite playing at home with the Stanley Cup in the building waiting to be hoisted on high, the Avalanche fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay opened the scoring and never fell behind on their way to a 3-2 victory. After the result in Game Five, the Avalanche are now at 2/9 to go on and win the series. Tampa Bay has improved their odds to 16/5 after a huge Game-Five win. Before we look at Game Six, let’s dive into how the Lightning kept their hopes alive.
In our previous article, we spoke about how the Tampa Bay Lightning were trying to come back from 3-1 down in a Stanley Cup Finals for only the second time in history. After winning Game Five in Colorado the Lightning took a massive step to staging one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history. Tampa Bay started strongly once again as they took the lead as they did in Game Four. After the first two games, Tampa Bay found itself down by multiple goals halfway through the first period. In Game Five, however, Jan Rutta opened the scoring with a great slap shot that just sneaked past Darcy Kuemper in the Avalanche goal. Another strong start for the Lightning, just like they did in Game Four before it all went wrong.
— NHL (@NHL) June 25, 2022
Then, disaster struck again for the Lightning. Just five minutes into the second period Cale Makar fired a shot at Andrei Vasilevskiy which rebounded nicely to Valeri Nichushkin for the easiest of tap-ins to level the score. A familiar territory for the Lightning in this serious. When they do find a way to take the lead the Avalanche managed to claw themselves back into it and go on and win. But, with just over ten minutes to go in the second period, the Tampa Bay Lightning found themselves in a 4-3 power-play situation and it was finally time for Nikita Kucherov to get his first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals. Steven Stamkos dropped an assist back to Kucherov who drilled the slap shot first time past the helpless Darcy Kuemper. Kucherov couldn’t find the net in the first four games of the series but came up big in Game Five to keep the hopes of the Lightning fans alive.
Just like they did in the first period, the Lightning was able to hold onto the lead until the end of the second period and started the third up 2-1. But once again they couldn’t hold it for long. Just three minutes into the final period Cale Makar slaps a shot as he skated into the circle and it deflected off a skate and through the legs of the Lightning goalie. 2-2 and all the momentum in the favour of the Colorado Avalanche. Resiliency and fight are two of the key components that helped the Lightning win back-to-back titles and got them into the Finals again this year. Their resilience came through again in this game as they took a 3-2 lead after a well-worked Ondrej Palat goal. Victor Hedman continued his fine form as it was his assist that found Palat and allowed him to fire through the legs of Kuemper.
PALLYYYYYY MAKES IT 3-2!!!!! pic.twitter.com/HtyvWVj04L
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) June 25, 2022
After losing the first two games in Colorado, in quite convincing fashion, the Lightning came out in Game Five and prevented the usual speedy goal-scoring attack that the Avalanche have mastered. Tampa Bay was never going to go quietly into the night, but even the most die-hard Lightning fan must have thought this one was over.
The series heads back to Florida and Tampa are the underdogs yet again. At 17/20 the Colorado Avalanche remains the favourites to win Game Six. Tampa Bay is the slight underdogs at 10/11. In Game Five we hit on both Hedman and Makar getting an assist at 39/20. Both players are playing well at the right time of the series and will look to continue their fine form in Game Six. The same bet of both players to have over 0.5 assists is at 39/20 yet again. Cake Makar is involved in everything the Avalanche does and is likely to be in the action yet again. Nikita Kucherov is finding some form and to score over one goal he is currently at 9/10 odds.
I think we will get back to the high-scoring affairs that we are used to. So far, when the game goes to Tampa there has been an average of 7.5 goals a game. So in Game Six, I am looking at over 6.5 goals for 23/20 odds. A back and forth battle as one team looks to stay in the hunt and the other looks to slam the door on a three-peat.
The puck drops for Game Six at 0100 hours on Monday 27th June 2022.