Avalanche (1C) and Lightning (3A)
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Colorado leads best-of-7 series 2-0
The Tampa Bay Lightning know they’ll need more than a boost from their home crowd in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche at Amalie Arena on Monday.
After losing the first two games of the series at Ball Arena in Denver, including 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday, Tampa Bay hopes to get back to playing the structured defensive game that served it well through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We’re not in a do-or-die situation right now, but let’s just go out there and find our best game right now,” Lightning forward Pat Maroon said. “They haven’t seen our best, so we’re excited. Hopefully we can show them our best tonight.”
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Tampa Bay is 7-1 on home ice, including winning seven in a row since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the Avalanche are 7-0 on the road, so they’re comfortable being the visitor in a hostile environment.
“Part of it is staying even-keeled,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Part of it is just regardless of the venue we have to play to our identity, play with the right amount of details and competitiveness, and we’ve done that on the road this season, not only at home. So it doesn’t change a whole lot for us. It’s about us and what we have to do to have success.”
Teams that take a 3-0 lead in a best-of-7 Cup Final are 27-1 (.964) winning the series. Teams that lead 3-0 in any round are 199-4 (.980), including 3-0 this postseason. (The Avalanche swept the Nashville Predators in the first round and swept the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. The Lightning swept the Florida Panthers in the second round).
Here are 3 keys to Game 3:
1. Start on time
Getting off to a better start is essential for the Lightning after the Avalanche led 2-0 in the opening 9:23 of their 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 and 2-0 after 7:55 in Game 2.
Instead of simply trying to weather the early storm, the Lightning need to play in the Avalanche’s end more from the drop of the puck. Colorado scored a power-play goal in the first period of each of the first two games, so avoiding early penalties would also help.
“Just simplify our game and please don’t take a penalty in the first five minutes of the game,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “When you take the puck out of their hand, you don’t give them momentum that they want. But give them credit, it’s a great trait to have, is to start fast and play with the lead. It’d be nice to make these guys chase a game for once instead of us.”
2. Burakovsky’s and Point’s availability
Andre Burakovsky is day to day and Bednar said “we’ll see” when asked if the forward will play Monday. Burakovsky left Game 2 after being hit in the hand with a shot from Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman early in the second period.
Burakovsky was expected to join the Avalanche in Tampa on Monday after remaining home to be evaluated Sunday but did not arrive in time for the morning skate. He had a big impact on the first two games of the Final, scoring the overtime winner in Game 1 and having a goal and an assist in Game 2.
“It will be a test, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog said of potentially playing without Burakovsky. “…It’s been whoever’s ready is ready to go. It’s no different tonight.”
Cooper said Brayden Point will be a game-time decision after the forward missed the morning skate. Point played the first two games of the Final after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury he sustained in Game 7 of the first round.
3. Generate more shots
Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper faced 23 shots on goal in Game 1 and 16 in Game 2, when he earned the second playoff shutout of his NHL career. The Lightning were limited to 29 shot attempts in Game 2, when the Avalanche had 60.
Tampa Bay hopes to make Kuemper work harder in Game 3.
“We need more shot volume,” Maroon said. “We need more attempts to the net. We need them scrambling in the D zone. It just feels like it’s easy for them to break out right now and I think that would be a start: get pucks in early, get in on the forecheck , slow down their D so they can’t get up the ice. I think last game they beat us up the ice way too many times. … So most importantly, just getting that puck in right away and slowing down their offense. The longer we play offense, it’s better for (us) because they can’t go and transition on offense.”
Avalanche projected lineup
Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Valery Nichushkin
Nicolas Aube-Kubel — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Alex Newhook — Darren Helm — Artturi Lehkonen
Andrew Cogliano — Nico Sturm — Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews — Hold Makar
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson
Scratched: Justus Annunen, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermidJacob MacDonald, Jayson Megna
Injured: Samuel Girard (sternum), Nazem Kadri (hand), Andre Burakovsky (upper body)
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel — Anthony Cirelli — Alex Killorn
Ross Colton — Brayden Point — Nicholas Paul
Pat Maroon — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — Zach Bogosyan
Scratched: Cal FooteFredrik Claesson, Riley Nash
Landeskog (maintenance) did not take part in the morning skate but is expected to play. …Nash will be in the lineup if Point is unable to play.