The Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to etch their names on the Stanley Cup for a third straight season and secure their dynasty pass for life. However, they will have their biggest test over the last three seasons when they face a Colorado Avalanche team that has lost just twice in the postseason, and have been the betting favorite to win it all since before the season started.
Can the less-rested Bolts win the first game on the road and steal home-ice advantage, or will Colorado take Game 1 in its first Stanley Cup Final since 2001? Find out in our free NHL betting picks and predictions for Lightning vs. Avalanche.
Be sure to also check out our staff picks for this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
Lightning vs Avalanche Game 1 odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
The Avalanche opened as short as -175 on the moneyline but are starting to get longer and have moved to -155 as of Tuesday morning. Colorado closed as -300 favorites in Game 1 vs. the Predators, -200 vs. the Blues in Game 1, and -195 vs. the Oilers in Game 1.
The total opened at 6 and is inching towards the Over. The Lightning are 9-1 to the Under over their last 10 playoff games.
Lightning vs Avalanche Game 1 predictions
Predictions made on 6/14/2022 at 11:00 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Lightning vs Avalanche Game 1 info
• Location: Ball Arena, Denver, CO
• Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2022
• Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ABC, Sportsnet
Lightning vs Avalanche Stanley Cup Final odds (tied 0-0)
Lightning vs Avalanche Game 1 betting preview
Lightning: Brayden Point F (Questionable).
Avalanche: Darcy Kuemper G (Probable), Nazem Kadri F (Questionable), Andrew Cogliano F (Questionable), Andre Burakovsky F (Questionable).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Lightning vs Avalanche head-to-head record since 2016-17
Lightning: 6-4 SU, 33 goals for.
Avalanche: 4-6 SU, 30 goals for.
Betting trend to know
The Lightning are 8-1 straight up in their last nine games following a win. Find more NHL betting trends for Lightning vs. Avalanche.
Lightning vs Avalanche Game 1 picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
Only three other teams in hockey have won back-to-back-to-back Stanley Cups, and the Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to be the fourth and first since 1983. The Bolts lifted Lord Stanley in the bubble vs. the Stars in 2020 and against the Canadiens in last year’s unique playoff format. Regardless of the quality of the opponent, they have the experience advantage in this series, and it might be the difference maker.
Colorado has lost just twice thus far in the playoffs and has dominated the majority of those games. It’ll be entering this series having last played nine days ago, which is certainly a long time off.
Its path to the Cup Final was littered with questionable opposing goaltending as it faced David Rittich/Connor Ingram in Round 1, knocked Jordan Binnington out and saw a shaky Ville Husso in the second round, and then faced Mike Smith in Round 3. Now the Avs have to face the best goalie in the world as Andrei Vasilevskiy is locked in and has surrendered just five goals over his last four games.
Over the last three seasons, Vaz is 46-19 straight up with a 1.99 GAA and .931 SV% in the playoffs. The Avalanche are the No. 1 scoring team in the playoffs at 4.64 goals per game, but they’ve faced some questionable goaltending, and if Vasilevskiy and the Bolts can slow them down, the season could be over before the Avs can make the adjustments.
Colorado won’t be able to run up the score vs. Tampa. Vaz is one thing, but a defensive group that rivals its own and is built to play playoff hockey awaits the Cup favorites. Tampa Bay also has a shutdown second line with Anthony Cirelli leading the way.
Cirelli is now playing with Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn but the results have been the same. The now second-line center has seen plenty of time vs. Auston Matthews, Aleksander Barkov, and Mika Zibanejad, and has been on the ice for just six goals at 5-on-5.
Absolutely no one is scoring with Anthony Cirelli on the ice and he’s been such a beast
251:58 5v5 minutes this postseason. Including 60:01 vs Zibanejad, 52:52 vs Matthews, and 25:34 vs Barkov. 6 total goals in all of that time lmao
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) June 12, 2022
Even on the road, Jon Cooper could still have good matchups against Nathan MacKinnon’s line, with Brayden Point potentially returning Wednesday to play between Nick Paul and Ross Colton. Add in a fourth line that consists of Patrick Maroon and Corey Perry — two players who have played in each of the last three finals — and it will be tough for the Avs to win the matchup battle which is critical with the last change.
Injuries are also a big factor in this series. Point has returned to practice and looks more probable than questionable for the opener. There is an argument that he is the Bolts’ most valuable skater during the playoffs so his addition is massive for the visitors.
On the other side, the Avalanche could still be without second-line center and point-per-game forward, Nazem Kadri, who just had thumb surgery and was skating without a stick at practice this week. We’d be very surprised to see him return, especially with him being a free agent this summer.
Colorado goalie, Darcy Kuemper, is back and healthy enough to start after sitting out three games in Round 3, including the series-clinching match. He has not been great so far in the postseason, sporting a 2.67 GAA and .897 SV%. This is the Avalanche’s biggest weakness and that’s a dangerous thing for a Tampa team who only needs one or two goals for a victory.
Another red flag from the favorites is giving up the first goal. In their 14 games, the Avs have allowed the first goal in seven of those contests, and have relied on their offense (and poor opposing goaltending) to overcome those early deficits. Tampa has scored first in 11 of its 17 games and has won nine of those matches.
Ultimately in this series, special teams could be the difference. We saw the Lightning struggle to control the Rangers’ No. 1 power play in Round 3, but Cooper and his club made great adjustments and played much more disciplined hockey, giving up just five PP opportunities in the series’ final three games.
Both teams have elite talent on PP 1, but it was the Avs’ penalty kill that gives us a big worry heading into the Finals. Colorado’s 75.7% kill percentage is not something elite teams should be dragging into the last round. The Oilers exposed the Avalanche’s biggest weakness, and Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos could certainly do the same.
With the extra time off, the disadvantage in net, and the lack of experience, we’re hoping the Lightning can land the first blow vs. a team that has struggled to score first. Tampa is 4-1 SU as +120 dogs or longer in the playoffs.
Prediction: Lightning moneyline (+135 at bet365)
The Lightning have turned back the clock and summoned their inner 1990s New Jersey Devils. This is a Tampa team that can win with two or three goals, and has done so in six of its last nine playoff wins. The Under is 9-1 in the Bolts’ last 10 games and they have found a winning recipe that certainly favors the Under, especially when it’s sitting at 6.0.
Through 17 games, the Lightning are seeing an average of 5.47 total goals per game, and over their last two series, that number is even shorter at 4.60 per game over 10 games.
The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy did what he does best in the #ConferenceFinalsRecap – leave fans in awe.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 13, 2022
This is going to be a very different series for the Avalanche who have played some loose teams in the Preds, Blues, and Oilers. The Bolts have had no issues slowing down some elite offenses, which include the Maple Leafs and Panthers.
Cooper and Cirelli have also done a great job in slowing down the opposing top lines meaning the Avs will need some scoring depth. With Kadri on the shelf and Andrew Cogliano also questionable, Colorado isn’t as deep as the public might perceive.
The lack of penalties will also play a big part in these totals. The Avalanche currently sit with the second least penalties taken per game in the postseason at 2.99. Colorado has been shorthanded more than three times just once in its last 10 games. Tampa is also playing disciplined hockey and has been shorthanded just five times over its last three games. Multiple power-play goals are asking a lot in Wednesday’s opener.
Tampa Bay isn’t a team that runs up the score as its attention gets turned to the defensive side of the game with a lead, and that’s just how the Bolts know how to win. If they score first, this could turn into a slower-paced tilt and one the Avs haven’t been accustomed to playing in during these playoffs. Tampa wants to play its game, and we think it has the tools and experience to pull it off.
With two of the best defensive groups in all of hockey, easy goals will not be had in this series. And with the way Vasilevskiy has been seeing the puck, we doubt the favorite tops its team total of 3.5.
Prediction: Under 6 (-105 at FanDuel)
The Lightning played the Maple Leafs and Panthers as +120 underdogs or longer five times in the postseason and won four of those games. This is the best-coached team in hockey and one that knows how to stop their opponent.
Backing the Avalanche means trusting a team that is likely starting a goalie with a sub-.900 SV% in the playoffs, and has sat out the team’s last four games. Kuemper is not someone we’re willing to back as a decent favorite, and we’d rather trust the reigning Conn Smythe winner who comes into the series on a four-game winning streak.
Vasilevskiy has a 1.25 GAA with a .955 SV% over that stretch and has played in 10 Cup Final games over the last two seasons. Kuemper is a giant question mark heading into the opener.
Colorado has not had to play a team like the Lightning so far in the playoffs, and the adjustments from the Oilers to the Bolts are a very big swing in game planning. The Lightning have already knocked off the Leafs and Panthers — two teams that play more similarly to the Avs. It could take some time for Jared Bednar and the Avalanche to adjust to the tight, mistake-free play of Tampa Bay.
Vasilevskiy is also an easy player to jump onto at +135 and we’re happy to ride the Big Cat for another game in his quest to rise up the Conn Smythe odds board. If Tampa scores first — something Colorado’s opponents have done in 50% of its games — the home side could be in serious trouble as no team knows how to play with a lead more than the Bolts in meaningful games.
This +135 price is implying that the Lightning will still be underdogs at home in Game 3, which is not something we agree with.
Pick: Lightning moneyline (+135 at bet365)
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