cale-makar-getty-images-nhl.jpg
Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning will count on the crowd for energy as they try to stay alive in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final when they host the Colorado Avalanche in Game 6 on Sunday night. The two-time defending champions have had to rally from behind in two of their three playoff series, and it's a must-win Sunday if they are to win their third straight Stanley Cup. The came out of Denver on Friday night with a 3-2 victory, and they have come back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits already in these playoffs. They should be confident they can force Game 7, but Colorado is the younger team and has been peppering the Tampa Bay net with shots throughout the series. The Avalanche are seeking their third Stanley Cup title, but their first since 2000-01. The Lightning have won three, also taking the title in 2003-04.

Puck drop at Tampa's Amalie Arena is set for 8 p.m. ET. Colorado is the slight -115 favorite (risk $115 to win $100) on the money line in Caesars Sportsbook's latest Lightning vs. Avalanche odds. Tampa Bay is a -105 underdog, and the over-under for total goals scored is set at six. Before making any Avalanche vs. Lightning picks or 2022 Stanley Cup Final predictions, you need to see what SportsLine NHL expert Matt Severance has to say.

Severance is a well-connected writer and handicapper who has worked in the industry since 2005. He is SportsLine's top NHL handicapper, going 137-73-4 in his last 214 NHL picks and returning almost $3,000 for $100 players. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, Severance has set his sights on Avs vs. Lightning and locked in his picks and NHL playoff predictions. You can head to SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several NHL odds and betting lines for Lightning vs. Avs: 

  • Avalanche vs. Lightning money line: Colorado -115, Tampa Bay -105
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning over-under: 6 goals 
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning puck line: Colorado -1.5 (+210)
  • Avalanche vs. Lightning tickets: See tickets at StubHub
  • COL: D Cale Makar has seven points in the past four games
  • TB: D Victor Hedman has four points in the past three games
Featured Game | Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Colorado Avalanche

Why the Avalanche can win

Colorado is averaging 4.4 goals per game in the playoffs, while Tampa Bay is scoring 3.0 per contest. The Avalanche also have outshot the Lightning in four of the five games, holding a wide 163-129 edge overall in the series. The Lightning have 101 more penalty minutes (274-173), and the Colorado power play has been far more effective. In fact, the Lightning have just two goals on 18 power-play chances (11 percent) in the series and are at 20 percent in the postseason, while Colorado is 6-for-15 (40 percent) in the Stanley Cup Final and 33.3 percent overall. 

The Avalanche have history on their side, as the 1942 Maple Leafs are the only team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to lift the Stanley Cup. The Lightning have stars at every level, but Colorado has more than its share, and they are younger and faster. Cale Makar, recently named the Norris Trophy winner as the league's best defenseman at age 23, leads the team with 29 points (21 assists). Nathan MacKinnon, now a veteran at age 26, has a team-high 12 goals, and Gabriel Langeskong has 11 goals and is plus-14 in the team's 19 postseason games.   

Why the Lightning can win

Tampa Bay has shown the heart of a champion throughout the postseason and bounced back after a heartbreaking overtime loss in Game 4. Ondrej Palat got the game-winner Friday night, the 16th go-ahead playoff goal of his career, and Nikita Kucherov scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final. Kucherov has still been making plays, posting a team-high 27 points (19 assists), and Palat leads the team in goals with 11 in the postseason. The Lightning showed in their 6-2 win in Game 3 that they have the firepower to exploit Colorado's shaky goaltending.

They chased Darcy Kuemper from that game, and the expected starter has yielded 13 goals on 129 shots (89.9 save percentage) in the series. Tampa Bay's Andrei Vasilevskiy has a 2.54 goals-against average and 92.1 save percentage in the playoffs and is far more experienced. Both goals in Friday's game were the result of deflections, with one taking a bad rebound off his pads after a ricochet and the other finding the net off a teammate's skate. The Tampa crowd at Amalie Arena will be fired up to propel their team to Game 7 and a chance to repeat.

How to make Avalanche vs. Lightning picks

Severance has analyzed the Lightning vs. Avalanche game from every angle, and he is leaning under on the goal total, but he also says a critical X-factor makes one team a must-back on the money line. He's only sharing who it is and which side of the Game 6 money line to back at SportsLine.

So who wins Avalanche vs. Lightning in Game 6 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Final? And what crucial X-factor makes one team a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to see which team you need to jump on, all from the expert who has crushed his NHL picks, and find out.