Time: 7 p.m. ET
Venue: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Where to watch: Bally Sports Sun, Altitude, ESPN+
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
BetMGM: Both -110
Caesars: Lightning -120, Avalanche +100
Avalanche: 1-3-0, 2 points
Lightning: 2-2-0, 4 points
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Avalanche - Lightning preview and analysis
Avalanche: lost 4-1 vs. Panthers on Tuesday
Lightning: lost 4-1 at Panthers on Thursday
Colorado Avalanche *shakes hands* Tampa Bay Lightning
Losing 4-1 to the Florida Panthers.
This is what happens when you're on Twitter with trends happening and you get caught in the cycle.
But one of the hopeful Stanley Cup Final matchups from last year will come to fruition on Saturday when the high-octane Avalanche visit the two-time Stanley Cup champions in what's bound to be a hell of a showdown.
While we should look at it that way, this is more of a matchup for two teams that have gotten off to shaky starts to start the season.
The Avalanche, the winners of the Presidents' Trophy last season, have dropped three straight since their season-opening victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at home. Colorado is having to reintegrate MVP Nathan MacKinnon back into the lineup after missing time due to COVID-19 protocol.
Colorado has also had to adjust to a new goaltender. Darcy Kuemper, in the midst of replacing Philipp Grubauer, is off to a 1-2-0 start with a 3.79 GAA and .890 save percentage.
"I mean, we've got 78 games left," Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "That's a lot of hockey. Start with one, and obviously playing another tough opponent here [on Saturday at Tampa]. There's no secret formula, right? We've got to work and that's what we are doing and what we are trying to do."
The Lightning appear to be in a rut themselves. Following a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the night they rose their second straight championship banner to the rafters, Tampa Bay had to rally from three goals down to defeat the Detroit Red Wings. That followed with a 2-1 overtime win over the Washington Capitals.
That win over Washington came with a price: Nikita Kucherov is on LTIR once again and will miss a significant amount of time this season. The former league MVP missed all of last regular season before coming back in the playoffs and leading Tampa to the Cup.
Tampa Bay went 0-for-6 on the power play in Tuesday's loss to the Panthers. The Lightning could not find a way to beat Spencer Knight (30 saves) and Andrei Vasilevskiy is off to a rough start (2-2-0, 3.22 GAA, .893 save percentage).
"Obviously we're missing 'Kuch,' one of the best half-wall guys in the game," Lightning center Brayden Point said. "Our power play runs through him. It's going to be a work in progress. There's going to be things we have to iron out, but tonight wasn't good."
Many in the hockey world expect this to still be a serious possibility for the Stanley Cup Final. But these rough starts for some of these teams, even the Vegas Golden Knights included, are a gentle reminder that we're a ways away from being done with this season.
I'd expect Kuemper to be back after getting the night off Thursday, but also a big chance for the Lightning to bounce back. Steven Stamkos is off to a hot start with seven points through four games, and if the Tampa captain can keep this up, it'll be a good night for Tampa. Lightning win 4-3
The Avalanche are 63-35 when playing their third game in five days over the past three seasons.
Colorado is 21-12 in its last 33 non-conference games.
Colorado is 12-6 in games following a loss by three or more goals.
The Lightning are 31-10 in games following two consecutive unders.
Tampa Bay is 21-3 after scoring one goal or less in its previous game.
Gabriel Landeskog -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky -- Nazem Kadri -- J.T. Compher
Darren Helm -- Tyson Jost -- Logan O'Connor
Sampo Ranta -- Mikhail Maltsev -- Martin Kaut
Samuel Girard -- Cale Makar
Bowen Byram -- Erik Johnson
Jack Johnson -- Ryan Murray
Ondrej Palat -- Brayden Point -- Corey Perry
Alex Killorn -- Anthony Cirelli -- Steven Stamkos
Pat Maroon -- Ross Colton -- Mathieu Joseph
Boris Katchouk -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Taylor Raddysh
Victor Hedman -- Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh -- Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev -- Andrej Sustr
Points: J.T. Compher -- 4
Goals: J.T. Compher -- 2
Assists: Nazem Kadri -- 3
TOI: Cale Makar -- 23:48
Goalie: Darcy Kuemper -- 1-2-0, 3.79 GAA, .890 save percentage
Points: Steven Stamkos -- 7
Goals: Steven Stamkos -- 3
Assists: Victor Hedman -- 6
TOI: Victor Hedman -- 26:07
Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy -- 2-2-0, 3.22 GAA, .893 save percentage
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