Colorado Avalanche @ Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Final free betting picks: Lightning aiming to level the series after going two down.

Colorado Avalanche's J.T. Compher is checked by Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov. © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche's J.T. Compher is checked by Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov. © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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NHL Tips

Expert NHL handicapper and writer

Jon is an expert NHL handicapper and has been successfully providing insightful hockey picks for years.

Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay LightningPreview
WhereAmalie Arena
WhenWednesday, June 22, 8pm ET
Avalanche odds-110
Lightning odds-110
TVABC

After the Lightning bounced back from a lopsided loss Monday, the Avalanche will look to do the same tonight when the teams meet for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay trimmed Colorado’s series lead to 2-1 with its 6-2 romp in Game 3, answering the bell following a humbling 7-0 loss Saturday in Denver. That game had many hockey fans thinking the Avalanche might be on its way to the first Cup Final sweep in 24 years.

Colorado is still a huge favorite to end the Lightning’s two-year reign as NHL champions and hoist the Stanley Cup, with most sportsbooks offering the Avs series price in the -275 range at the time of writing. However, Colorado was a consensus -600 favorite going into Game 3 after outscoring Tampa 11-3 in the first two games of the series, and another Tampa Bay victory tonight would have Avs fans and bettors sweating when the series goes back to Denver for Game 5.

Fortunately for Colorado backers, the Avs have a strong history of bouncing back from ugly defeats. Colorado has won 21 of its last 26 games following a loss by three goals or more, and it is 10-2 in its last 12 games after allowing at least five goals in its previous outing. A strong start is critical for the Avalanche tonight in order to regain control of the series — the Avs have scored the first goal in each of the first three games — especially with concerns emerging about their goaltending. Despite posting a shutout in Game 2, #1 goalie Darcy Kuemper was hooked in the second period of Monday’s 6-2 defeat and called out for his performance by head coach Jared Bednar, leading to speculation that backup Pavel Francouz might get the nod for Game 4.

Darcy Kuemper (35) makes a save on Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17)

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper makes a save on Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn. - © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

At the other end of the rink, the Lightning should feel a lot better about themselves after finally breaking out offensively in Game 3. Monday was Tampa’s highest-scoring outing since Game 3 of the opening round against Toronto, and just the sixth time in 14 games that the Bolts have struck for more than two regulation time goals. Even better, it wasn’t one player who carried Tampa Bay’s offense Monday as six different players scored goals and 10 players had at least a point. The top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat continued to lead the way as each player collected at least two points.

On the injury front, Tampa got a scare when Kucherov left Game 3 late in the third period after being crosschecked and falling awkwardly into the boards, but the Lightning’s leading scorer is expected to suit up again tonight. Things aren’t as promising for teammate Brayden Point, Tampa’s leading goal scorer in each of the past two post seasons, who was scratched for Game 3 as he continues to deal with a lower-body injury that sidelined him for the second and third rounds of the playoffs. Colorado is expected to still be without two of its top forwards in Andre Burakovsky (undisclosed injury) and Nazem Kadri (thumb).

Avalanche Player To Watch: Gabriel Landeskog

Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) looks on after his goal. © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) looks on after his goal. © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado’s captain is a key cog in the Avs’ lethal power play, helping Colorado capitalize on five of its 11 opportunities with the man advantage in this series. Landeskog scored both of the Avalanche’s goals in Game 3, both on the power play, and has three markers so far in the Cup final.

Even though Landeskog missed the final 23 games of the regular season following knee surgery, he’s put up impressive numbers (11 goals, 10 assists and 21 points) in 17 postseason contests this spring.

Lightning Player To Watch: Corey Perry

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Corey Perry. © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Corey Perry. © Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The former 50-goal scorer and 2011 league MVP doesn’t put up numbers the way that he used to, but Perry still has a knack for coming up clutch. The 37-year-old forward scored in Monday’s must-win affair for the Lightning, snapping a 10-game goalless drought, and could be poised to deliver again tonight as he replaces Point on the powerplay.

Perry is now the first player in NHL history to score a goal in the Stanley Cup Final for four different teams, and he’s looking to avoid the rare distinction of losing in the Cup final for a third straight year with three different squads.

Conclusion

We noted Colorado’s defensive vulnerabilities on the road when we backed the Over 6 on Monday, and nothing that happened in Game 3 changed our mind. Despite their 7-1 record in the playoffs as the visitors, the Avalanche have given up at least three goals in five of those eight games, and now their goaltending is getting questioned as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t get a plus-price return on the Over 6 tonight like we did in Game 3. But with the Over still priced around even money at the time of writing, we think there’s still plenty of value to back the Over to cash for the fourth straight time in this series.

Avalanche at Lightning Stanley Cup final free betting pick:

  • Over 6 +100

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NHL tips.png

NHL Tips

Expert NHL handicapper and writer

Jon is an expert NHL handicapper and has been successfully providing insightful hockey picks for years.

NHL standings

East
West
  • Division
  • Atlantic
  • Metropolitan
  • All Divisions
Atlantic GP W L Otl Sol Pts G GA Home Away Ats OU
1 Boston Boston 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
2 Buffalo Buffalo 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
3 Detroit Detroit 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
4 Florida Florida 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
5 Montreal Montreal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
6 Ottawa Ottawa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
7 Tampa Bay Tampa Bay 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0
8 Toronto Toronto 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0-0 0-0-0-0 0-0 0-0

Last updated: Jun 28, 2:39 AM UTC

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