(3A) Lightning to (1C) Avalanche
8 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, CBC, SN, TVAS
Colorado leads best-of-7 series 1-0
The Colorado Avalanche prepare to be pushed back by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at the Ball Arena on Saturday.
The Avalanche won 4-3 in overtime in Game 1 on Wednesday.
“We know we haven’t seen Tampa’s best game,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “They will be better than they were in Game 1. There are a lot of areas for me where we can be much better than we were in Game 1. So we approach things from the same way we did in Game 1. I expect our guys to be full of energy and ready to go.”
[RELATED: Stanley Cup Final coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]
Bednar said the Avalanche expects Andrei Vasilevsky be at his best in Game 2 after the Lightning goaltender allowed four goals on 38 shots in Game 1.
Vasilevskiy is 1-3 with a .884 save percentage in Game 1 this postseason, but he is 11-3 with a .938 save percentage from Game 2, including 2-1 with a .928 save percentage in Game 2 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers.
“‘Vasy’ connects on its own,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “Now he has an idea of how they play, how fast they play, where they shoot from – all those things. And that’s what great goalkeepers do. They can determine teams.”
Tampa Bay is 18-1 in games after a Stanley Cup Playoff loss since 2020. It is 4-0 all-time in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but this is the first time he’s opened the series on the road.
Teams that take a 2-0 lead in a best-of-7 series are 341-54 (.863) all-time, including 47-5 (.904) in the Cup final. When the home team wins the first two games of the Cup final, they have won the series 37 out of 40 times (0.925).
Here are 3 keys for game 2:
1. Fixes against forward failure
It didn’t take long for the Avalanche to establish their forecheck in Game 1. Their speed forced the Lightning into turnovers out of their defensive zone, which led directly to the forward. Valery NichushkinColorado’s goal gave Colorado a 2-0 lead at 9:23 of the first period.
Goal per striker Andre Burakovsky 1:23 into overtime was also the result of a Tampa Bay turnover caused by Colorado’s aggressive attacking on the forecheck.
“I don’t think you can really understand it until you feel it in the first game like that,” the Lightning defenseman said. Ryan McDonagh said. “When they’re on the forecheck, sometimes for us, we like to connect the dots, make a few passes. In the beginning here, it might be throwing it in a zone, throwing it to speed us up and trying to get around some of their failures before that way. At the end of the day, it comes down to readings, it comes down to being connected in our zone and trying to perform a lot better than we did.”
2. Keep shooting, Cale
Cale Makar attempted nine shots in Game 1; six were blocked and the Avalanche defenseman missed the other three. It was the first time in 15 games this postseason that Makar had no shot on goal; this happened twice in 77 games during the regular season.
Makar is averaging 3.4 shots on goal per game, the most of any NHL defenseman who has played beyond the first round. But Tampa Bay did a good job of impeding their shots, preventing Colorado from creating scoring chances.
The fact that Makar didn’t get any shots isn’t a concern for the Avalanche, especially since they won the game. But Makar’s ability to land shots was important for Colorado’s offense in the playoffs and it could be again in Game 2.
“It’s just making sure you’re moving and have your eyes up to shoot and that’s something he does consistently,” Bednar said, “and if he sees something ‘he likes at the net, I want him to send it there. They “I’m going to block a lot. That does not bother me. We’ll get it back.”
The Lightning went 0-for-3 with three power-play shots on goal in Game 1. A big problem they had was getting into the zone, but the Avalanche deserve some credit for that.
“I think we did a good job on peak coverage and getting into our zone,” Bednar said. “There was really good quickness, anticipation. They were aware of some of the tendencies in Tampa’s power play. There were sacrifices. We were blocking shots.”
The Lightning need to create better escapes to get cleaner zone entries when on the power play.
They did it on their first power play in the first period, when they had two shots on goal and five shot attempts. They had a combined shot and two attempts on their other two power-play opportunities.
Programming projected by lightning
Ondrej Palat — Steven Stamkos — Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel — Antoine Cirelli — Alex Killorn
Ross Colton — Brayden Point — Nicholas Paul
brown paw — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — Corey Perry
Victor Hedman — John Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — Zach Bogosyan
Striped: Cal Foote, Frederic Claesson, Riley Nash
Planned programming for avalanches
Gabriel Landeskog — Nathan MacKinnon — Valery Nichushkin
André Burakovsky — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Alex Newhook — Darren Helm — Arturi Lehkonen
André Cogliano — Nico Sturm — Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews –Cale Makar
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson
Striped: Justus Annunen, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Jacob MacDonald, Jayson Megna, Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Injured: Samuel Girard (sternum), Nazem Kadri (hand)
The Lightning did not hold a morning practice Saturday. … Cogliano is “maybe an option” for Game 2, Bednar said; the center missed Game 1 after undergoing surgery for a hand injury sustained in the third period of Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.