Game 4 preview: Colorado looking to regroup against Tampa Bay

After having 18 points in 59 games with Ottawa, Paul had 14 in 21 regular season games with the Lightning. In the first round against To...


After having 18 points in 59 games with Ottawa, Paul had 14 in 21 regular season games with the Lightning. In the first round against Toronto, Paul scored Tampa Bay’s only two goals in Game 7 to oust the hometown team.

“Confidence,” said Paul, when asked what he noticed upon arriving. “And being able to do it, no matter what it takes.”

Clinging to the vague nomenclature that accompanies playoff injuries — dysentery, for example, could be categorized as just a lower-body condition — Paul said he felt “pinned down” after a flare-up of the Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson sent him off for a career on his “funny bone,” which is quite the understatement for right knee. The feeling that emanated from it made the act of skating less of an inconvenience than an extravagance. But it calmed down enough for him, on his first shift, to take a Ross Colton pass into the slot 86 seconds into the second period and fire a shot past Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

“You see some games start to follow you, and all of a sudden you’re kicking your ass,” Stamkos said. “It’s almost like you feel lighter there.”

Two more Lightning goals followed within 10 minutes, banishing Kuemper to the bench, and now it’s Colorado’s turn to turn, rest and recalibrate. This Avalanche team, in a way, is reminiscent of the nascent Lightning – loaded with speed and skill but lacking, for now, championship validation.

In the last playoffs, after tying the most points in the NHL, Colorado won its first two second-round games against Vegas by a 10-3 margin. He then lost the next four. In the first two games of these finals, Colorado beat Tampa Bay 11-3. Now, with their aura of invincibility pierced and an unstable goaltending situation heading into Game 4 on Wednesday night, the Avalanche will try to avoid a similar meltdown.

“We’ll be back,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said, “and we’ll be fine.

Maybe. Maybe not. Rangers, after expressing the same belief in the Eastern Conference Finals, scored all five goals while losing four straight. The Avalanche are a more powerful opponent, but the Lightning remain what they have always been. Champions once, twice and, aside from an ungainly vacillation, with their dynastic aspirations real and intact.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Game 4 preview: Colorado looking to regroup against Tampa Bay
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