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NHL Picks: June 22

By Michael Harty

Tampa Bay returned home in a must-win situation and answered the bell with a resounding 6-2 win on Monday Night. Down 2-0 and coming off a 7-0 beatdown, Tampa needed to come out to start the game with a purpose. After having a goal disallowed, and then Landeskog finally breaking through to allow the Avalanche to take the lead, it could have been all she wrote for any team not as poised as the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. After Antony Cirelli made an outstanding play to even the game, the usual suspects (Stamkos, Kucherov, Palat) connected off a beautiful goal set up by a rare Devon Toews turnover. This opened the floodgates for Tampa, as they proceeded to chase Avs starting goalie Darcy Kuemper from the net. Colorado will need to regain that swagger from Games 1 and 2 in order to head home with a chance to close out the series.  

Although Tampa Bay won, it may have come at a cost as star player Nikita Kucherov left the game with an apparent injury from a Devon Toews cross-check. Lightning players and coaches advocated for Toews to receive supplemental discipline post-game, but that is unlikely. Brayden Point, who was announced out prior to the puck drop, is deemed doubtful for the game. Role player Nick Paul also left the game for a moment and was noticeably banged up. At a certain point, these injuries will prove to be costly, especially if Kucherov is unable to go. 

Colorado, who out-chanced the Lightning for the third straight game, had multiple glorious chances to put the game away early and were denied by Vasilevsky. The Lightning goalie, who had been “shaky” for his standards through the first two games, was dialled in from the get-go as he made a brilliant save seconds into the game off a Makar point shot. They will need to continue to apply the pressure on this depleted Tampa team. 

A series is never over until you lose at home, and Tampa has shown that they are very much still alive and won’t go down without a fight. That being said, I do believe the 6-2 Tampa win was a bit of an outlier. Colorado will need to get average goaltending, in order to win this series. Kuemper will not be required to steal a game, he simply just can’t lose it for them, and he certainly didn’t do them any favours Monday night. I think Coach Bednar goes back to the veteran and he responds to provide the star-studded Avalanche team with the average goaltending they need to win the game and head home with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

RECOMMENDED WAGER: Colorado Avalanche Moneyline (+100) at LowVig

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