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Preview: Time to close it out

The Avs can finish the marathon tonight.

NHL: JUN 22 Stanley Cup Finals Game 4 - Avalanche at Lightning Photo by Andrew Bershaw /Icon_Sportswire

The Stanley Cup Final now transitions back to Denver for a big Game 5 Friday night at Ball Arena. The Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning are reaching the back end of the series, with the Avs looking to make history on home ice.

Folks, it cannot be understated: this is the biggest game of the year. It is the biggest game of the year for each club each for a very different reason. All that can be said is this: the Cup will be in the building.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs come home to what will be a rambunctious crowd on Friday night. This is due to the fact that the Avs boast a commanding 3-1 series lead and have a chance to raise Lord Stanley on home ice tonight.

This comes after what was a resilient performance Wednesday night for Game 4. After falling behind just 36 seconds in and then once again at 2-1 heading to the third period, an overtime winner from the freshly-returned Nazem Kadri capped off a huge win.

Of course, this is the biggest game of the season for the Avs as they try to win the Stanley Cup for the third time in three tries and for the second time on home ice. They can stop the dynasty Tampa Bay has built. It should be the same guys, all looking to achieve the same goal.

Projected Forwards

Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)

Gabriel Landeskog (92) - Nazem Kadri (91) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)

Alex Newhook (18) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)

Andrew Cogliano (11) - Darren Helm (43) - Nico Sturm (78)

Projected Defenders

Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)

Jack Johnson (3) - Josh Manson (42)

Bowen Byram (4) - Erik Johnson (6)

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning is facing the toughest test and adversity on their run towards a three-peat of the Stanley Cup. After dominating Game 3 and having the upper foot for the majority of Game 4, the Bolts need to turn it up a gear to extend the series.

That makes it their most important game of the season tonight, to obviously keep their season alive and send it back to Tampa for Game 6 on Sunday if needed. Jon Cooper had an emotional postgame conference stating the Avs’s goal shouldn’t have counted but retracted his thoughts yesterday morning.

He knows the pressure he and his team will face in a must-win game away from home. They’ve already done it once this playoffs against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round on the road, and look to achieve it once again and send it back to Amalie Arena.

Projected Forwards

Ondrej Palat (18) - Steven Stamokos (91) - Nikita Kucherov (86)

Brandon Hagel (38) - Anthony Cirelli (71) - Alex Killorn (17)

Nick Paul (20) - Ross Colton (79) - Corey Perry (10)

Patrick Maroon (14) - Pierre Eduoard-Bellemare (41) - Riley Nash (16)

Projected Defenders

Victor Hedman (77) - Jan Rutta (44)

Ryan McDonagh (27) - Zach Bogosian (24)

Mikhail Sergachev (98) - Cal Foote (52)


The men between the pipes will look no different with Darcy Kuemper looking to close it out for the Avs, while Andrei Vasilevskiy will look to keep the series alive.