We have a bit of a series here, don’t we? The Tampa Bay Lightning woke up at home and turned over the Colorado Avalanche 6-2 in Game 3. Now they look to even the series in Game 4 Wednesday night.
The Lightning responded quick after going down 1-0 as Anthony Cirelli and Ondrej Palat scored 1:51 apart and then Nicholas Paul netted his fifth of the playoffs early in the second period for a 3-1 lead. Four goals in the second period chased Darcy Kuemper and helped Tampa Bay avoid a 3-0 deficit. What should we expect tonight?
Let’s take a look at what to watch for ahead of Game 4 tonight from AMALIE Arena in Tampa Bay.
What to watch for in Game 4 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final
• Same lineup expected for Lightning: Status quo for Tampa Bay tonight, according to Jon Cooper. The Lightning head coach said he expects to ice the same lineup. That would mean Brayden Point is out and Nikita Kucherov is in after suffering an apparent lower-body injury towards the end of Game 3.
“I’m not saying they’re all fine. They’re going to play,” Cooper said. “Everybody’s banged up this time of year.”
As for Point, despite a third missed game, there’s still a chance he returns later in the series.
Said Cooper of Point: “I haven’t ruled him out for the series, but he’s out for tonight.”
• Francouz or Kuemper?: After shutting out Tampa Bay in Game 2, the Lightning hung five on Kuemper during Monday night’s defeat. That led to speculation that Jared Bednar could make a change to Pavel Francouz, who played the final 29 minutes of Game 3.
Bednar was coy after Wednesday’s morning skate saying it was a “possibility” he would stick with Kuemper.
“He’s followed up good performances with better performances, and he’s elevated his game when we’ve needed him to,” Bednar said.
Kuemper has a .922 save percentage and two wins following an Avalanche loss this postseason.
[Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info]
• No Burakovsky, but maybe Kadri: Andre Burakovsky remains in Denver and did not travel with his teammates to Tampa Bay. He is skating back home but will not play Game 4. Nazem Kadri, who is working his way back from thumb surgery, was a full participant this morning and has been skating daily, increasing curiosity as to when he’ll make his Stanley Cup Final debut.
“He’s been skating, legs feel good,” Bednar said. “Just managing the pain he’s been dealing with.”
Nicolas Aube-Kubel stayed out after the skate to be with the likely Game 4 scratches, a possible sign Kadri is ready.
• Tied series or Colorado advantage: According to the NHL, a Lightning win in Game 4 would make them the 17th team in NHL history to tie two playoff series after facing a multi-game deficit in each. They can also become the 14th team to knot up a Cup Final 2-2 after dropping the opening two games.
An Avalanche win, however, means they would be the sixth team to take a 3-1 Cup Final series lead over a defending champion — the last to do so was the 1999-00 New Jersey Devils.
COLORADO AVALANCHE v. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (COL leads 2-1)
Game 1 – Avalanche 4, Lightning 3 (OT)
Game 2 – Avalanche 7, Lightning 0
Game 3 – Lightning 6, Avalanche 2
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.