The Tampa Bay Lighting are two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions for a reason, and they showed just why they are on Monday night down in Florida. The Colorado Avalanche had gone up 2-0 in the series by wiping the floor with the Lightning in Colorado, outscoring them 11-3 in those two games, and grabbing a 7-0 complete thrashing victory in Game 2. They also totally dominated the ice, as I mentioned in our daily Betting Playbook yesterday, and looked like they were easily going to roll over Tampa Bay. This is exactly why I picked the Lightning to take Game 3 in that article, because this team doesn't roll over and die easily, and they put on a show back at home to make this a series again now sitting at 2-1.
Colorado’s seven-game winning streak and perfect 7-0 mark on the road in the playoffs both came to an end in Game 3. Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper went from finishing Game 2 allowing no goals to not finishing Game 3 at all. He was pulled after allowing five goals on 22 shots, and it turns out that actually getting shots on net against him and testing him is a good idea. Backup Pavel Francouz blocked nine of the 10 shots he faced. Francouz is 6-0 with a 2.81 GAA and .906 save percentage. Could there be a goalie controversy brewing in Colorado? They will likely send Kuemper back out there for Game 4, but if they take another lopsided loss, perhaps that's a decision that head coach Jared Bednar has to contemplate.
Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy bounced back with a strong game, making 37 saves. He looked like the guy who’s won two Stanley Cups, as well as a Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy. We talked about betting his odds to win the Conn Smythe back before the Final began, and how it was a better value than simply betting the Lightning to win the series. If Vasilevskiy continues this type of play, he will win the award. Tampa Bay needs him to play well if they are going to win their third straight Stanley Cup.
The Lightning are down 2-1 for the third time in four series. Tampa Bay won Game 4 in each of these previous scenarios. Whenever the pressure is truly on, this veteran team always seems to come up with the answer and play their best hockey. They did that in Game 3, and now we will see if they can do it again in Game 4.
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