The Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche meet for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals Wednesday at Ball Arena in Denver. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN+). Below, we look at the Lightning vs. Avalanche Stanley Cup Final Game 1 odds and lines, and make our expert NHL picks, predictions and bets.
The Lightning slipped into an 0-2 series hole against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the two-time defending champs rattled off 4 consecutive victories to earn the chance to play for a third straight Stanley Cup.
The Avalanche are looking for their third championship in franchise history and first since hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2001. Colorado made quick work of the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Finals, picking up its second sweep of the postseason. The Avs are 12-2 through 14 games in the playoffs.
Lightning at Avalanche odds and lines
Odds provided by Tipico Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated at 6:52 a.m. ET.
Money line: Lightning +122 (bet $100 to win $122) | Avalanche -150 (bet $150 to win $100)
Against the spread (ATS): Lightning +1.5 (-200) | Avalanche -1.5 (+150)
Over/Under (O/U): 6.5 (O: +105 | U: -130)
Lightning at Avalanche projected goalies
Andrei Vasilevskiy (12-5-0, 2.27 GAA, .928 SV%, 1 SO – postseason) vs. Darcy Kuemper (6-2-0, 2.65 GAA, .897 SV% – postseason)
Vasilevskiy has posted 4 straight wins after losing the first 2 games in New York last round. He yielded 6 goals in Game 1 after a lengthy layoff, a very uncharacteristic game. He allowed just 5 total goals in the final 4 games of the series.
Kuemper suffered an eye injury in the Nashville series and was forced out of the Edmonton series, too. The Avs have declined to name a starting goaltender, but have stated Kuemper is 100 percent healthy now after more than a week off since the last series. Look for Kuemper to start, but for G Pavel Francouz to be at the ready in case he struggles.
Lightning at Avalanche picks and predictions
Avalanche 4, Lightning 3
The AVALANCHE (-150) are rather moderate favorites, and that’s because they’ve had plenty of rest and are back to mostly full health. C Nazem Kadri and C Andrew Cogliano are question marks due to upper-body ailments, but both could also play here.
The Lightning aren’t short on Stanley Cup experience, that’s for sure, and C Brayden Point (lower body) could be close to returning to bolster the unit. But, Colorado gets them at home in Game 1.
Against the spread
The Lightning +1.5 (-200) would cost two times your potential return, and that’s just too much if you want some insurance. If you like the champs, just play them straight up.
The OVER 6.5 (+105) is rather tempting at plus-money despite the fact the Lightning have been 8-1 to the Under in their last 9 contests. However, if you’re going to get Vasilevskiy, it’s in a Game 1. He has 12 total goals in 3 series openers this postseason.
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