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NHL - US Sports: Game 3 Preview

The two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning have had no answer to the Colorado Avalanche so far in the Stanley Cup Final and find themselves 2-0 down in the best-of-seven series following a 7-0 defeat in Game 2 at Bell Arena on Saturday.

By winning the first two games at home, the Avalanche are 1/6 to win their first Stanley Cup since 2001, whilst the Lightning are 9/2 to turn things around and three-peat as champions.

Despite the predicament they find themselves in, history shows that the Lightning are far from out of it and they will look to draw on past experience to re-establish themselves in the series back on home ice.

What: Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, Stanley Cup Final Game 3

Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay

When: 01:00, Tuesday 21st June 2022

How to watch: Premier Sports, Sports Live Streaming

Odds: COL Avalanche 29/20, TB Lightning 6/4

Avalanche chasing greatness

With a commanding victory in Game 2, the Avalanche are two wins away from tying an all-time play-off best record, set by the legendary Edmonton Oilers in 1988.

Colorado are 14-2 on their dominant run in the post-season so far, which includes sweeps of the Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers, plus a six-game win over the St. Louis Blues.

Only four other teams have started the play-offs with such a strong record and each won the Stanley Cup - the 1981 New York Islanders, the 1987 and 1988 Edmonton Oilers and the 2012 Los Angeles Kings.

Since the play-off format began requiring 16 wins to lift the Cup in 1987, the best record belongs to the 1988 Oilers at 16-2.

Four teams are tied for the next-best record at 16-4 - the 1993 Montreal Canadiens, the 1995 New Jersey Devils, the 1997 Detroit Red Wings and the 2012 Kings.

Don't write off the Lightning

Whilst the Avalanche are on the verge of one of the top post-season runs in NHL history, the Lightning have proven time and time again that they can overcome adversity to prevail.

Tampa Bay are seeking to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cup championships since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-83.

The Lighting have built a reputation as the bounce-back kings, the masters of adjustments and a team which finds a way, no matter of the scenario.

After going 17-0 in games following a defeat in the play-offs, the Lightning had that proud record ended in the Eastern Conference Finals, going 2-0 down on the road against the New York Rangers.

As per the situation they find themselves in now, the Lightning returned home, levelled the series and also won the next two games to eliminate the Rangers, who like the Avalanche looked to have Tampa's number in the early going of the series.

Avalanche solving Vasilevskiy puzzle

Netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy has been super-human in the play-offs for the Lightning, but the Avalanche have managed to make him look pretty ordinary so far.

The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy holder as the MVP of the play-offs allowed seven goals on 30 shots in Game 2 and four goals on 38 shots in Game 1.

His .767 and .895 save-percentage in the two games fell well below his play-off career average of .923.

In both games, the Avalanche gave the 27-year-old no time to settle, scoring three goals in the first period. In 98 play-off games previously, Vasilevskiy had never given up more than two goals in the opening period of a game.

He'd also never previously given up seven goals in a play-off game.

A usually more consistent Vasilevskiy has been hot and cold throughout all of the post-season so far, so whilst the Avalanche may feel they have solved the puzzle for now, there is still every chance that the 'Big Cat' will respond with his very best, as he did after sub-par performances in both Round 1 and the Conference final this season.

Tampa may not enjoy home advantage

With seven straight wins, the Lightning are an excellent 7-1 at home this post-season.

However, the Avalanche are a remarkable 7-0 on the road and will head into Tampa Bay more than confident that they can take a stranglehold on the series.

Lightning up against it

Arguments to expect Tampa Bay to get back into the series are strong. Their resilience has been proven time and time again, but statistically they are certainly up against it.

Only five teams in NHL history and fallen behind 2-0 in a Stanley Cup final and won. Worse for the Lightning, only four teams have been 2-0 down in both the Conference final and Cup Final, and none of them won the Cup.

If there was to be a first, however, there's little doubt that the self-dubbed Tampa Bay "Find-a-ways" could be the team to break new ground.

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