The Tampa Bay Lightning survived the Colorado Avalanche's first chance to close out the Stanley Cup Final in Game 5.
Tampa Bay finds itself in a similar situation in Game 6, but it is now back on home ice inside Amalie Arena.
The two-time reigning Stanley Cup champion used a combination of strong goaltending, impressive defense and star power on the scoresheet to keep its season alive on Friday night.
Colorado should feel some of the pressure since it does not want to go back home for Game 7 against a team with much more playoff experience.
The Avalanche have not had a playoff series last more than six games this postseason. They won their last Game 6 in the second round over the St. Louis Blues after losing a close-out game at home.
The Western Conference champion has to hope for a similar situation to play out on Sunday night so it can close out the title.
Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Odds
Moneyline: Colorado (-115; bet $115 to win $100), Tampa Bay (-105)
Puck Line: Colorado (-1.5; +220), Tampa Bay (+1.5; -260)
Colorado Familiar with Closing out on the Road
The Colorado Avalanche have not finished a series at home all postseason.
The Avalanche swept the Nashville Predators in the first round and the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final. The final win in each series came away from Denver.
Colorado's only Game 6 of the postseason took place in the second round against the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche won that contest 3-2 after losing by one goal in Game 5 at home.
The Stanley Cup Final comes with more pressure than a second-round series, but Colorado at least has some experience in this situation.
Jared Bednar's team totaled 14 goals in its three close-out victories. It won two one-goal games against St. Louis and Edmonton to move on to the next rounds.
Colorado already has a win inside Amalie Arena from Game 4. That victory came in a one-goal contest that was settled in overtime.
The Avalanche's Game 4 win could be vital to help them get through playing on the road in a title-clinching situation on Sunday. Had they lost both games at Amalie Arena, they may have been more intimidated by the Game 6 environment.
Colorado would love to break open the scoring behind Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. It scored 11 goals in the first two games of the series, but it has not gotten over the three-goal mark since Game 2.
If MacKinnon, Makar and others get on the scoresheet early, Colorado may be able to run away with the contest. Tampa Bay is not suited to scoring six goals to win a postseason game. The Lightning have won through strong defense and great play in net from Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Colorado needs to solve Vasilevskiy to ease some pressure on its end and force Tampa Bay to press while playing with a deficit in hand. That could be the right combination to clinch a fourth straight series on the road.
Tampa Bay Needs Another Strong Andrei Vasilevskiy Performance
Tampa Bay recovered from the seven-goal onslaught it conceded in Game 2 by holding Colorado to seven goals in the last three games.
The Lightning outscored the Avalanche 11-7 since the start of Game 3, and it needs another strong defensive performance to stay alive for one more game.
Tampa Bay won Game 5 despite being outshot because of Vasilevskiy's play in net. The Lightning goalie turned away 35 shots.
Vasilevskiy owns a .901 save percentage, and he has 181 saves in the series. Those totals are much better than Darcy Kuemper's .899 save percentage and 116 saves.
Vasilevskiy is Tampa Bay's most important player for Game 6. The Lightning have been unable to hold the Avalanche under the 30-shot mark in each of the last three games, but Vasilevskiy has come up big in net.
Colorado got two goals from 39 shots in Game 3, three goals out of 37 shots in Game 4, and two tallies from 37 shots in Game 5.
The Tampa Bay defense needs to do a better job of containing MacKinnon, Makar and Nazem Kadri, who combined for 18 of Colorado's 37 shots on Friday night.
Tampa Bay's top defensive players need to slow down that trio to take a bit of pressure off Vasilevskiy in certain stages of the game. When they do take shots, the Russian netminder needs to replicate his performance from the last three contests.
If Vasilevskiy turns in another massive performance, Tampa Bay will at least have a shot of extending the series another few days, which would then put more pressure on the young Avalanche team.
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