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Stanley Cup Final Preview: Keys to Winning Game 6

It's another do-or-die game for the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Colorado Avalanche look to close the series out on the road. Here's what you need to look for in Game 6.
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TAMPA - It's another do-or-die game for the Tampa Bay Lightning as the Colorado Avalanche look to close the series out on the road. Here's what you need to look for in Game 6.

Darcy Kuemper needs to be Colorado's best player

With the way the Avalanche were flying early, they looked destined to win Game 5 and close the series out early.

And then Jan Rutta somehow found a way to beat Darcy Kuemper, shiting the momentum the other way.

Kuemper has had more than his fair share of wonky moments in the Cup final. He nearly cost the Avs a win in Games 1 and 4, and now can't afford to give up any more poor goals if the Avalanche are going to avoid a collapse.

After giving up a bad goal to Victor Hedman in Game 4, Kuemper played some of his best hockey and was key in helping Colorado beat the Bolts in overtime. His ability to bounce-back after a rough one has been impressive, but this is as much of a must-win game for Kuemper as it is for the Lightning.

Kuemper can't have another "OK" performance like coach Jared Bednar put it after Game 5. If there has ever been a game for the pending UFA to play the best game of his life, it's tonight, especially against a rowdy Amalie Arena crowd that'll be busy chanting "Vasy, Vasy" all night long.

Bolts have to rely on more than just history

If we've learned anything from the past three years, it's that the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the league when it comes to elimination games.

They've won them all since 2020, and after winning Game 5, what'll stop them from doing it again? 

The issue? The Colorado Avalanche have been the better team in this series, beating the Bolts in most key statistical categories. So while the momentum might have shifted Tampa's way heading back home, they've still got a big mountain to climb, and no mulligans at their disposal. The Avalanche will beat you down until there's nothing left, and they're not exactly thrilled about the conclusion of Friday's contest, either.

Nothing short of a perfect 60-minute effort will do, and that's been a problem for Tampa in this series.

The Lightning will be without Brayden Point, but they've shown they've got the depth to make it work without him. Obviously, that's a player you'd want in the lineup, but Ondrej Palat has filled the goal-scoring gap in very well, and Nick Paul, for a couple games, has been the team's best player. 

Goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy has been so good in these games for so long, but they can't rely on him to steal another game again. Tampa needs to give him as much goal support as possible, and they're a club that certainly can do that.

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