The Colorado Avalanche are one victory away from winning their first championship since 2001 after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on Wednesday.
With the series shifting to Colorado for Game 5, the Avalanche are -1500 to clinch the Cup whilst the Lightning with their backs to the wall are +900 to turn the series around and win a third Stanley Cup in a row.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche, Stanley Cup Final Game 5
Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
17:00 MST, Saturday 25th June, 2022
|How to watch|
TB Lightning +150, COL Avalanche -170
Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri returned after missing four games following hand surgery to score the overtime winner in Game 4.
His addition back into the line-up is a welcome one for Colorado, with the 31-year-old so far producing 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 14 post-season games.
His fine post-season performances come on the back of a career best regular season in which he had 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 71 games.
Netminder Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves for Colorado in Game 4, after he allowed five goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Pavel Francouz in a 6-2 defeat for the Avalanche in Game 3.
His .949 save-percentage was a remarkable improvement on the .773 posted in the game previous and his best since Game 2 of the First Round against the Nashville Predators.
He even became the first goalie in NHL history to record an assist on an overtime goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Kuemper is 8-3 with a .892 save-percentage and 2.76 goals-against-average in 13 play-off games.
His confident performance will certainly put to bed any questions about his place between the pipes and one more victory will see him win his first Stanley Cup, in his debut season with the Avalanche.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper was emotional in his press conference after Game 4, bemoaning the overtime game-winner scored while, he believes, Colorado had too many men on the ice.
He said the feeling of injustice will motivate his team who will continue to fight in the same way they have to make three straight Stanley Cup Finals.
Defenceman Victor Hedman was also resolute about Tampa's chances saying they will focus on one game at a time, and continue to believe in their two-time championship group.
Their response is one of a team which since the start of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs is 19-2 following a defeat. However, rarely have they been 3-1 down and there is no longer any room for error.
The feat. is possible with 31 teams overcoming a 3-1 deficit in all rounds of play-off history (298-31). Tampa Bay were one of those teams in the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarter-finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It's been a long time since a team managed the turnaround in a Cup Final however, with it being last achieved by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1942.
Since, teams that go down 3-1 have lost on 35 consecutive occasions, which gives the Lightning just a 2.8 per cent of three-peating as champions.
The Avalanche bounced back strongly from a 6-2 defeat in Game 3, which was their only road defeat of the playoffs.
Not only that, but they found themselves 1-0 and 2-1 down in Game 4 before coming back to record their ninth come from behind victory in the play-offs. That is the second most by a team in NHL history, behind the 2009 Penguins.
Overall Colorado are 15-3-0 in the post-season. The Lightning are 13-8-0.
Colorado are an excellent 7-2-0 in the play-offs at Ball Arena and have the first of two (if needed) opportunities to clinch the Cup in front of their home fans in Game 5.
They won both games at home to start the Final series 4-3 and then 7-0.
Over the play-offs, they have outscored their opponents 40-23.
The Lightning are 5-6-0 on the road in the post-season and have been outscored 26-36.
Various figures are positive for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Final so far, including their superior 55 per cent face-off win advantage, but one statistic which they need to change is Colorado's success on their powerplay.
The Avalanche again registered on the man-advantage in Game 4 taking their tally to 6-from-13 in the Final, a remarkable 46.2 per cent conversion rate.
If the Lighting are going to get back into the series, they must find a way to stay out of the penalty box and improve significantly on their 53.8 per cent penalty-kill.