Lightning look to force Game 7, Avs’ Andre Burakovsky possible to play

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been on a mission this season to become the first team in the modern salary cap era to win three Cups in a row. They’ll also be the first team to do so since New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-1983.

In order for that to happen, Lightning coach Jon Cooper will need his charges to execute the game-plan and force a Game 7. It certainly won’t be easy as they are trying to climb out of 3-1 series hole.

The odds of the Lightning winning this series are slim. NHL history shows a team that takes a 3-1 series lead in the Final will win 35 out of 36 times. Back in 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs became the only team to do it by storming back from 3-0 down to beat the Detroit Red Wings.

“I think that with our group, you just have reset and understand, like, it’s the first one to four. It’s not the first one to three,” Cooper explained. “You don’t know how you’re going to get there.”

Lightning looking to force a Game 7

Tampa won a huge Game 5 thanks to a third period goal from Ondrej Palat with a little over 6 minutes to play. Captain Steven Stamkos understands the mission ahead.

“We extend the season and that’s what we wanted to do,” Stamkos said. “We talked about one game at a time. It was a grind, but we found a way. Great effort and now we’ve got to do it again.”

Surviving elimination games has become a speciality of this team since last year’s Eastern Conference Final Game 7 win over the New York Islanders. Including that contest and into these playoffs, Tampa is 4-0 when facing elimination (10 GF, 6 GA).

“Listen, this is a huge challenge for us,” said Pat Maroon, who is looking to win his fourth straight Cup (St. Louis Blues 2019). “An exciting challenge, too. You’ve got to be excited for this challenge and embrace it.”

The Lightning have been great at Amalie Arena where Game 6 will be played. This postseason, they’re 8-2 on home ice.

Andre Burakovsky possible for Game 6

nhl playoffs tampa bay lightning
Jun 20, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) reacts after left wing Pat Maroon (14) scored against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) during the second period in game three of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche were disappointed that they couldn’t close this out for their home fans on Friday night. Especially seeing Darcy Kuemper get a piece of Palat’s eventual game-winner that squeaked through his pads.

“It’s not supposed to be easy and it’s not going to be easy,” Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Vasilevskiy had another good night. We felt good about our game, we tied it up in the third and then obviously they created a slot shot there that squeezes through ‘Kuemps.’ So, it is what it is. Short memory in the playoffs, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Kuemper has already been confirmed to start Game 6 with forward Andre Burakovsky listed as possible. The OT hero of Game 1 has not played in the last three games due to taking a Victor Hedman shot off his hand in Game 2.

All eyes will be on the winner of this year’s Norris Trophy, Cale Makar. His two points (1 G – 1 A) in the Avs’ Game 5 loss gave him 29 points which is good for fourth all-time for a defenseman in a single playoff year. He trails Paul Coffey (37), Brian Leetch (34), and Al MacInnis (31).

The Avalanche are 8-1 on the road in this postseason. If they can’t close out Tampa Sunday night Game 7 will be on Tuesday in Denver.