The Stanley Cup will be inside Ball Arena on Friday night.
The Colorado Avalanche hold a 3-1 advantage on the Tampa Bay Lightning going into Game 5 on home ice, where they outscored the two-time reigning champion 11-3 in Games 1 and 2.
Colorado put the clinching situation in play with an overtime win over the Lightning. That was its second victory in an extra period in the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay produced a few series comebacks throughout the 2022 NHL Playoffs, but none of its opponents have been as talented as the Avalanche.
Colorado has not let anything faze it in the postseason, and it has a 15-3 record to show for it.
The Avalanche are favored to end the NHL season and hoist the Stanley Cup on home ice on Friday night, but they will get a fight from the Lightning, who will not be willing to relinquish their crown just yet.
Stanley Cup Final Game 5 Odds
Money Line: Colorado (-190; bet $190 to win $100), Tampa Bay (+160; bet $100 to win $160)
Puck Line: Colorado (-1.5; +145), Tampa Bay (+1.5; -170)
Colorado Sits In Terrific Position To Clinch
Colorado has simply been the better team throughout the entire series.
That was on display in the overtime period of Game 4 in which the Lightning had trouble getting out of their defensive zone.
Colorado eventually scored the game-winning goal on a strong individual effort out of Nazem Kadri to set up the Stanley Cup-clinching scenario on home ice in Game 5.
Kadri's return to the lineup coincided with Tampa Bay picking up more nagging injuries that have taken players out for stretches of games, or have impacted them throughout the series.
Colorado comes into Game 5 as the healthier team, and it likely would be the better team even if the teams were at full strength.
The Avalanche cancelled out Tampa Bay's experience intangible and have shown no fear going up against the two-time reigning champion in a setting in which most of their players have not been in.
Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Kadri could steal the spotlight for one final time in the postseason on Friday night.
MacKinnon and Makar could be in a race between themselves for the Conn Smythe Trophy. Makar has done more to impact the Stanley Cup Final with five points compared to MacKinnon's three, but a multi-goal performance out of MacKinnon could make the voters think.
The series has not been just about Colorado's two stars. Mikko Rantanen has eight assists, Valeri Nichushkin and Gabriel Landeskog have four points each and Kadri chipped in with the game-winner in Game 4.
Colorado's depth is doing more than Tampa Bay's pieces, and it has dominated more games in the series.
That trend could easily seep into Game 5, where the Avalanche would love to end the series to avoid falling into a Tampa trap in Games 6 and 7.
Tampa Bay Needs More Points Out of Steven Stamkos
Steven Stamkos has one goal and one assist in the Stanley Cup Final.
Tampa Bay's captain has been held to low numbers, and no one on the Lightning roster has taken full control of the offense. The Lightning have one player with four points.
In fact, only four players on the Lightning roster have three or more points after four games. Colorado has seven players who fit that statistic.
Stamkos is getting shots off in the series. He has 10 shots on goal, but only one of them has gone in.
Most of his tallies throughout the postseason have come inside Amalie Arena. He scored once on the road against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final. He also had a single road tally in the first-round series versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stamkos' last five postseason goals have come on home ice. The Lightning need the home version of their captain to show up in Denver in Game 5 to give themselves a fighting chance.
Stamkos is one of the few Lightning stars who has not been banged up in the postseason. Brayden Point's status has been in question for the entire series, and Nikita Kucherov picked up an injury at the end of Game 3. Kucherov played in Game 4, but he is not as healthy as others on the ice.
Tampa Bay rescued its Stanley Cup three-peat twice already in the postseason. It won Games 6 and 7 in the first round and came back from a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference Final.
Kucherov scored in each of those games, while Stamkos, Point and Ondrej Palat needed a goal each in those two contests.
Tampa Bay needs its stars to show up once again in a series-changing game, and Stamkos is the perfect player to take over and bring the series back to Amalie Arena.
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