The Avalanche took control of the Stanley Cup Final, winning an overtime thriller in Game 4. After a staggering 6-2 loss in Game 3, the Avs got back to their championship-level defensive ways, holding the Lightning to just 2 goals in Game 4.
Many doubted whether the Avalanche could muster up the energy needed to win a crucial Game 4. Colorado has relied on momentum and stamina to outlast opponents all season long. Now, with the momentum back on their side — and heading back to their home ice — the Avs enter as heavy favorites.
The Avalanche open up as the largest favorites they’ve been since the series began at -167 on the moneyline.
Oddsmakers may be expecting another low-scoring game Friday night. Under 6 goals is the favorite for the first time in this series. With the exception of 1 letdown game each, both teams have been very impressive on the defensive end.
The Avalanche just seem to have a bit more firepower to capitalize when it counts; a big reason why they are one win away from being champions.
With the Cup in the building Friday night, can the Avalanche clinch at home? Or will the Lightning’s last-ditch effort be enough to force a Game 6 in Tampa?
Tampa Bay Lightning
On the brink of elimination, doubt is starting to surround the Lightning. The back-to-back champs have shown a lot of positives in this series. There were major questions on their ability to slow down the scorching Avalanche offense.
With the exception of Game 2, they have done that for the most part. The Lightning have been able to capitalize on their chances at a pretty good clip in the series. They just haven’t had a ton of chances, thanks to the underrated Avalanche defense.
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In almost all metrics, including shots, blocks and takeaways, the Lighting and Avalanche are about even. I think the most telling stat in the series has been hits. The Lightning lost the hits battle 29-41 in Game 4.
It’s become clear the Lightning are a tick slower and playing back on their heels. The Lightning may have an even tally in shots, but they have not been able to sustain attacks and garner quality chances.
The Lightning have always proved they shine bright against adversity. A team as experienced as them will not go away easily. But, with the clear speed disadvantage, they’ll have to find the same magic they had in Game 3 quickly in order to avoid elimination.
The most impressive part of the Avalanche run is their ability to win games in different styles. In Game 1, they lost a big lead and found the strength to re-energize in overtime for a win. Game 2 was a blowout. And in Game 4, they had to come from behind for the first time.
Colorado has a clear talent advantage, allowing the Avs to overcome plenty of different obstacles. They haven’t faced many this postseason. So, their ability to refocus after a Game 3 loss is definitely encouraging for Avalanche fans.
In Game 4, Nathan MacKinnon finally scored a goal this series to open up the scoring for the Avs in the second period. Colorado has been desperate to find production from their star player. While they still had a lead in the series, the Avalanche were reeling after Game 3. They certainly squashed all the questions surrounding their goalkeeper play and toughness that came out of the Game 3 loss.
Now, on the doorstep of their first Cup win in 20+ years, the Avalanche must remain focused on the aspects of their game that got them this far. If they can keep up their crisp puck movement and solid team defense, they’ll be well on their way to hoisting the Cup Friday night.
With all the momentum back on their side, I’m expecting a dominating offensive performance from the Avalanche. In the brightest moments, they need to rely on the style of play that got them in this position.
Scoring 6+ goals on their own is not uncommon this postseason. The Avs know that they can out-skate and outlast the Lightning and I’m looking for them to attack early and often while they dominate time of possession.
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On the flip side, many have been pleasantly surprised by the Lightning’s offense. While they just can’t seem to take advantage of their opportunities late, they’ve done a great job of hanging tough and forcing the Avalanche to play with some urgency.
I like the value we’re getting on this line, which is currently beating the CLV. With two teams that could have an offensive explosion at any point, even money on over 6 is a great value.
Lightning vs. Avalanche Game 5 Prediction
The Cup returns to Colorado Friday night. The Avalanche have the Lightning on the ropes and can play their style of high-energy, dominating offense.
Their insane puck movement has kept the Lightning on their heels. Outside of a Game 3 outlier, the Lightning have not been able to keep up with their outrageous speed and firepower.
Avalanche 5-Lightning 2
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