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Avalanche look to crush Lightning's dreams of Stanley Cup 'three-peat'

Colorado, who lost in the second round the last three years, have scoring depth across the roster and are the oddsmakers' favorites.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) talks during a press conference after game six of the June 11, 2022 Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers at Amalie Arena.
Kim Klement / USA Today Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning are closing in on a rare third successive Stanley Cup title but while captain Steve Stamkos is confident his "pretty special" squad will get it done they face a huge challenge from the explosive Colorado Avalanche.

The last team to win three straight NHL championships was the New York Islanders, who won four in a row in the 1980s.

The Lightning showed they may have what it takes to 'three-peat' by coming back from two games down to beat the New York Rangers in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

"This group is pretty amazing, pretty special," Stamkos told reporters after sealing their Stanley Cup spot with a Game Six win over the Rangers on Saturday.

"Veteran guys, the young guys — each guy is just a part of the process and that's just what makes this team so special and tight and unique."

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With the best-of-seven Finals series getting underway on Wednesday at Ball Arena in Denver, home fans will be looking to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to get them off to a flying start.

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Colorado has scored three goals in the first period in Games 1 and 2, becoming only the third team in league history to accomplish that feat during Stanley Cup Final.

The Russian boasts a .928 save percentage in the postseason and he will need to be at his best to neutralize a well-rested Avalanche, who have enjoyed plenty of downtime since humiliating the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 in the Western Conference final.

Colorado, who lost in the second round the last three years, have scoring depth across the roster and are the oddsmakers' favorites.

Center Nathan MacKinnon has scored 11 times in the postseason while 23-year-old defenseman Cale Makar has been a rock at the back.

Avs head coach Jared Bednar said their focus had always been getting things right in the postseason.

"There's always been a bigger focus than just winning regular season hockey games," Bednar told reporters.

"We kind of had the bigger picture in mind from day one ... We have one step left and I don't feel like any of our guys are satisfied."

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