Stanley Cup Finals Game 3 Preview: Avalanche vs. Lightning

The reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning have to be ecstatic there was only a day to think about the slaughter that transpired in Game 2.

The Colorado Avalanche scored a touchdown in their 7-0 shutout win on Saturday night in Denver. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has given up 11 goals in the opening two games of the series. Furthermore, his six goals allowed are the most in the first period since George Hainsworth gave up seven in 1936. It’s not a good look, but the Lightning have been down and have come back to win a couple series this postseason, most notably against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal, and the New York Rangers to advance to the Cup Finals for the third consecutive season.

But those teams don’t compare to this Avalanche squad. Colorado is on another echelon and Tampa coach Jon Cooper alluded to that after the loss in Game 2.

“They’re playing at an elite level right now,” he stated. “We’re not.”

The Avalanche and Lightning are both -110 to win Monday’s Game 3 and the over/under is set at six goals.

What time is Avalanche vs. Lightning Game 3?

8 p.m. ET on Monday

Where to watch and stream Avalanche vs. Lightning?

Channels: ABC, CBC, SN

Streaming: ESPN+, SN Now

What are the odds for Lightning at Avalanche Game 3?

Avalanche-110O 6 (+100)
Lightning-110U 6 (-120)

Avalanche vs. Lightning Game 3 preview

Colorado coach Jared Bednar described it as “close to perfect,” but it’s difficult to find many major mistakes that occurred in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Avalanche massacred the team trying to become the first to win three straight Stanley Cup championships in 40 years, and made the best goaltender in the world in Andrei Vasilevskiy look like an amateur. This is a powerhouse.

About midway through the first period Saturday, the Avalanche had outshot the Lightning 15-1. In Game 1, the Lightning fell behind 3-0 after the opening period and clawed back to tie the game. They were utterly declawed and rendered hapless in Game 2.

The destruction began after Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh was called for a two-minute hooking penalty. Moments later, Andre Burakovsky fed Valeri Nichushkin an excellent pass for the goal. And the Avs never looked back.

“It was a bad time to have a bad start,” McDonagh said. “We lost our coverage and gave them odd-man looks. Any time you do that, you’re flirting with disaster and danger.”

The Avalanche have converted on 18 of 53 powerplay opportunities this postseason, good for 34 percent. Furthermore, they scored on all three powerplays in Game 2.

Vasilevskiy is said to be the best goaltender in the NHL, but even he couldn’t handle the speed of this Avalanche team. Saturday was his 100th playoff game and only twice has he allowed more than two goals in the first period – the Avalanche accomplished the triumph in both instances. You just can’t make mistakes against this team and Vasilevskiy has given up many juicy rebounds in this series that has led to goals. But what can you do when four Avs players are surrounding you from the moment the puck bounces off the pads? The poor guy needs help on defense.

“He’s our backbone,” Tampa winger Nick Paul said. “That’s not fair [to Vasilevskiy]. We have to be better for everyone. But we have to be better for him, especially.”

The depth of the Avalanche is the strong suit of their team. Of the 76 goals scored during this postseason, 20 have come from their top two scorers, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog, good for 26 percent. An example of a top-heavy team would be the Edmonton Oilers. 60 percent of their goals during the regular season came from two guys, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Of course, the Oilers were swept by the Avalanche in the Conference Finals.

Styles make fights and the Avalanche could be unstoppable. However, the Avs will be without one key player for Game 3. Andre Burakovsky was hit in the hand in the second period and did not return. He’s questionable for tonight and did not travel to Tampa on Sunday with the team.

Andre Burakovsky was hit in the hand by a shot in the second period and did not return. He’s questionable for Game 3 and did not travel to Tampa on Sunday with the team. On the other hand, star forward Nazem Kadri (thumb) has been skating again and could dress for tonight. The Colorado army remains strong.

As for a pick, you either go with the momentum of the Avalanche or you’re banking that Tampa will rally in Game 3. Both are good plays, but the choice is up to you.

Ryan O'Hara

Award-winning sportswriter from Denver, Colorado.

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