Monday night's 6-2 win by the Tampa Bay Lightning was an epic counterpunch. Now, the Stanley Cup Finals could be headed to the drama-filled matchup we expected.
Prior to Monday night's huge win by the Tampa Bay Lightning, there was widespread fear that this year's Stanley Cup Finals might turn into a lopsided bore.
Unless you were a rabid Colorado Avalanche fan (or bettor), the NHL championship series appeared to be headed towards a possible sweep, with little drama. Nothing against the Avs who would take a series win any way they can get it. But, most of us want more games and memorable moments. After all, who doesn't love playoff hockey to take us to the limit, with the best stars in the world all shining on hockey's biggest stage, and (if we're really lucky) the drama of a Game 7?
Well, that's a prospect that's back on the table now. It's a real possibility after the two-time and reigning Stanley Cup champions rebounded from a humiliating 7-0 loss in Game 2 in Denver, and nearly reversed the ass-kicking with a 6-2 victory on their home ice.
What's been interesting about this series is how quickly momentum has shifted. After it looked like Colorado might be headed for a 4-0 sweep, the tenor of the championship series has now totally shifted, and even brought on a goaltending controversy for the Avs.
"Let's find out what we're made of when we get back home."
-- Lightning Captain, Steven Stamkos (after Game 2)
What a huge response in Game 3 from the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions now seeking a three-peat. The Lightning defended to their usual high standards, limiting their opponent to 2 goals or fewer at home for the sixth consecutive game. Tampa Bay also got star performances from their top players -- including Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov had multipoint games, while goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy had 37 saves.
This win was utterly critical for Tampa Bay. Only five times in NHL history has the defending Stanley Cup champion trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series. None came back to win, and four of the five series ended in a sweep.
Now, it's a series again -- and an exciting, and unpredictable series, as well.
At Spreads.ca, the odds have shifted in the Avalanche's favour.
Game 3 was close to a pick'em, but Game 4 shows Colorado getting more respect and money.
Another surprise is the game total lowered to 5.5 goals. Since all three games saw 7+ goals scored, it's mystifying to see the O/U drop from 6 goals (on each of the last three games) down to 5.5. Presumably, the public believes crunch time will bring out the best in goaltenders. But we don't see it. More about this on Wednesday when we release our prediction and picks.
The puck drops in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Tampa Bay. Starting time is 8:00 pm EST.