The Colorado Avalanche have a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final, while the New York Rangers are in the same position in the Eastern Conference Final. They're each only two wins away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.
The Edmonton Oilers and the Tampa Bay Lightning will do their best to keep that from happening.
While the Avalanche and Rangers each won the first two games of their respective series, they did so in their home arenas. Now, they're both going on the road for the first time this round, so perhaps the Oilers and/or Lightning will keep things close.
On Saturday, Colorado and Edmonton will face off in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. And if the Oilers lose, they may face a deficit that will be too challenging to overcome.
Here's everything you need to know heading into the next Avalanche-Oilers matchup.
Saturday Schedule, Odds
Game 3: Colorado Avalanche (-140; bet $140 to win $100) at Edmonton Oilers (+120; bet $100 to win $120), 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
The Avalanche Will Sweep the Western Conference Final to Advance
Colorado and Edmonton have been the top two offensive teams in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs. But over the first two games of the Western Conference Final, the Avs have shown why they're just a bit better on that end of the ice than the Oilers.
In Game 1, Colorado showed it can win a high-scoring affair, pulling out an 8-6 victory. The Avalanche were more dominant in Game 2, as they cruised to a 4-0 win by scoring a trio of second-period goals. And Nathan MacKinnon put it further out of reach by scoring with four minutes and 40 seconds to go.
Not only did Colorado shut out Edmonton in Game 2, but it did so without starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who was out with an upper-body injury. In his place, Pavel Francouz recorded 24 saves in an impressive showing.
Even though the series is now heading to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4, it may not halt Colorado's momentum. The Avalanche have scored four or more goals in five of their past six games, and they showed great defensive improvement from Game 1 to Game 2.
"We can play either way—we can score and we can defend," Colorado center Nazem Kadri said, per Pat Graham of the Associated Press.
The Oilers are a solid team, but the Avalanche are better. And that's why this series won't even need to go back to Denver for a Game 5 matchup.
Colorado will keep its momentum going, continuing to excel on both ends of the ice. Edmonton will be a hostile environment, but that shouldn't faze a team as determined as the Avalanche to finally get back to the Stanley Cup Final, where they haven't been since 2001.
If the Oilers are going to have a chance to get back into the series, they'll likely need to score a lot of goals, as the Avs' offense isn't likely to slow down. But that could be challenging for Edmonton no matter if it's Kuemper or Francouz starting at goaltender for Colorado, as shown by Game 2.
So the prediction here is that the Avalanche are on their way to a sweep. They were the best team in the West this season, and that continues to be the case. So it's fitting that they'll have an opportunity to win their first Stanley Cup in 21 years.
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