Lightning face Avs in Game 4 with lessons learned

Forward Nikita Kucherov will be in the lineup for Game 4, per Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save on Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) in the third period Monday, June 20, 2022 in Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla.
Geoff Burke / USA Today Sports

The Tampa Bay Lightning took a huge step toward pulling themselves back into the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche after Monday's Game 3 victory.

Another big leap is needed when the Lightning host Wednesday's Game 4 of the best-of-seven series, which the Avalanche now lead 2-1.

"Well, as my son said, ‘Dad, your first game was a borderline C+, second game was an F,'" Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. "He gave us into the Bs in (Monday's 6-2 win), so we're trending in the right direction."

Forward Nikita Kucherov will be in the lineup for Game 4, per Cooper. The team's leading point scorer in the playoffs was injured late in Monday's game when he was cross-checked in the back and fell awkwardly into the boards.

Though Kucherov departed with just over six minutes remaining in Game 3, all signs are now positive for Tampa Bay.


The Lightning responded from a 7-0 thrashing in Game 2 at Denver with a solid, start-to-finish performance Monday in their eighth consecutive home-ice victory.

Coming back is nothing new for the Lightning. Tampa Bay erased a 3-2 series deficit in the opening round against the Toronto Maple Leafs to win in seven games, then trailed the New York Rangers 2-0 in the Eastern Conference final before claiming the series in six games.

"It's going to be a challenge. They're going to respond now," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "We've seen this before with other teams and we need to improve even more."

Cooper added that Brayden Point has been ruled out for Game 4. Point missed the second and third rounds before returning to the lineup for the first two games of the Finals, only to be scratched from Game 3.

Now it's the Avalanche's turn to counter. Colorado, which had its seven-game overall winning streak and seven-game road winning streak snapped Monday, does have issues to address even if it is not yet time to panic.

After this week’s blockbuster move, the Wild now have two first-round picks in the 2022 NHL Draft
The 25-year-old Fiala is fresh off the best season of his blossoming career in which he scored 33 goals, 52 assists, and 85 points.
The Sedins entered the league together in 2000 and spent their entire 17-year careers in Vancouver, with Daniel Sedin on the wing and Henrik Sedin playing center. They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame together, along with the rest of this year's class, on Nov. 14 at Meridian Hall in Toronto.
Colorado, which also won the title in 1996 and 2001, denied Tampa Bay's bid of completing a three-peat as Stanley Cup champion.
The Avalanche lead the series 3-2 with Game 6 at Tampa Bay on Sunday night
Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves, 16 of them in the first period, and assisted on the game-winning goal
Matthews, the NHL's first 60-goal scorer since Steven Stamkos in 2011-12, won his first Hart Trophy after finishing runner-up to Connor McDavid for the award last season
Tamps Bay responds after a 7-0 drubbing last game to claim eighth consecutive home win
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.
Colorado leads the series 2-0 with Game 3 set for Tampa Bay on Monday night

One concern is the goaltender situation. No. 1 netminder Darcy Kuemper was pulled last game after surrendering five goals. Kuemper likely will be in goal Wednesday, but coach Jared Bednar wouldn't tip his hand on whether he might turn to Pavel Francouz instead.

"(Kuemper) is allowed to have bad nights too. That's the way it is," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "I wouldn't hang him out to dry on any of those."

Maybe even more of a pressing need is for leading goal scorer Nathan MacKinnon to contribute more. MacKinnon, who has tallied 11 goals and nine assists in the playoffs, has just two assists in the three games of this series.


"I like the looks. Obviously, I've got to find the back of the net," said MacKinnon, who fired six shots on goal last game. "That's my job."

Bednar doesn't want his best offensive forward putting too much pressure on himself.

"The last thing you want to do is get frustrated, especially if you're getting opportunities. Eventually they come," Bednar said. "You don't have any choices as a player but to stick with it."

Bednar said forward Andre Burakovsky (upper body) remained in Denver, which would make him unlikely to play in Game 4. Center Nazem Kadri skated again on Tuesday in anticipation of returning from hand surgery.

"I believe he is an option for us at some point (but) not sure how soon," Bednar said.


This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

What to read next
The former UND star was set to become a restricted free agent this offseason.
The league's action stems from Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Belarus has been a supporter of the Russian aggression.
In overtime, a shot by Colorado's J.T. Compher was blocked. The rebound came to Nichushkin, and he passed it through the slot to Burakovsky, who buried the puck into the open side of the net to win it
The Stanley Cup Final begins with Game 1 in Denver on Wednesday night in a matchup of experience vs. determination. Tampa Bay's roster is loaded with players who have been to this level before while the Avalanche are in fairly new territory.