We needed overtime in Game 1 but what a series opener it was between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning. Andre Burakovsky gave the home side a 4-3 win and a 1-0 series lead Wednesday night. Now we wait to see if Jon Cooper’s charges can rebound and even the series up before it heads to Tampa Bay for Game 3.
Brayden Point returned for the Lightning, Darcy Kuemper was in net for the Avalanche, but Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano remained out for Colorado. Will we see any changes for Game 2?
Let’s take a look at what to watch for ahead of Game 2 tonight from Ball Arena in Denver.
What to watch for in Game 2 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final
• Resilient Lightning: Following their Game 1 loss, Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said “the right team won.” He was correct. Tampa Bay looked out of sync vs. Colorado, much like they did in Games 1 and 2 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. But after facing a 2-0 series deficit and down 2-0 in Game 3, they managed to come back and win the series. That’s what champions can do.
“It’s not about winning Game 1,” said Cooper. “Yeah, would we like to win every single game? There’s no question. But we’ve also started out on the road for all four series. So the fact that we’ve won one of them is kind of a bonus on our side. But it’s about winning the series. Yeah, it sucks we lost Game 1, but let’s turn the page here and let’s see if we can get Game 2. It’s about the series.”
We know the stat: Tampa Bay has only lost consecutive playoff games once since they began their Stanley Cup run in 2020. They’re also 1-3 in Game 1s this postseason. Every time they’ve started series slow they’ve only gotten stronger. But this is an Avalanche team that is 13-2, and battling back here will not be easy.
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• Cogliano possible, Kadri “better”: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said on Friday that Nazem Kadri is improving but there is no update on when he could play again.
“He added a stick to it for the last couple of days,” Bednar said. “Getting better. But I don’t have an update on him besides that.”
Andrew Cogliano took part in full practice and the team and could return Saturday night.
Both players are recovering from hand surgeries.
“[Cogliano] felt good enough to join the group today,” Bednar said. “We’ll see what it brings tomorrow.”
[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]
• Anthony Cirelli vs. Nathan MacKinnon: This is one of the individual matchups to watch in this series. A perennial Hart Trophy contender vs. a future Selke Trophy winner. In Game 1, MacKinnon was limited to two shots at even strength but his line as a whole had an expected goal share of 97.82% in a little over five minutes against Cirelli’s line.
MacKinnon also finished with one assist and nearly had a second after creating this chance for Gabriel Landeskog.
Vasy makes the stop and we're GOING TO OT IN GAME 1! #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/g7h1Lg7CG2
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) June 16, 2022
While Cirelli poses a challenge, as long as the Avalanche are playing at home Bednar will not shy away from putting who he wants out on the ice.
“I’m not going to interrupt the flow of our game to avoid something until I see that it’s not working,” he said. “If it’s working and our team is comfortable with it, then we’ll use it a little bit and not run away from it. If I want Nate on in certain situations and they put out Cirelli, I’m going to put Nate out.”
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• Deficits and leads: Down 1-0, the Lightning are looking to become the fourth team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after dropping the opening game of each of their four playoff series.
According to the NHL, only four teams out of 15 have dropped Game 1 of a best-of-seven Cup final in overtime and gone on to win the series.
Teams that have won Game 1 of the Cup Final in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the title 62 of 82 times. Teams that have taken a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-seven Cup Final have won 47 of 52 times.
COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 1-0)
Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – June 18: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 3 – June 20: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Game 4 – June 22: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 5 – June 24: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 6 – June 26: Avalanche at Lightning, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
*Game 7 – June 28: Lightning at Avalanche, 8 p.m. ET (ABC, ESPN+, SN, CBC, TVA Sports)
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.