DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado Avalanche will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final after the Bolts defeated the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final to win the best-of-seven series 4-2 Saturday night.

The Lightning are the defending Stanley Cup champions of the last two years, beating the Montreal Canadiens last season and the Dallas Stars in the 2020 COVID season.

Nikita Kucherov led the Bolts in the postseason with 23 points. Ondrej Palat and Steven Stamkos trailed behind with 16 and 15 points, respectively. But Tampa has more depth than just those players, getting double-digit points from defenseman Victor Hedman and four other players with more than five points.

If Brayden Point gets back in the lineup and Andrei Vasilevskiy stays on top of his game, the Bolts are going to be an even tougher team to beat.

Tampa finished the regular season in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with the same number of points as the Rangers.

They beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round of the Stanely Cup playoffs. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers were swept by the Lightning in the second round.

The Avalanche faced the Lightning twice during the regular season winning both contests by one goal. The first meeting in October went to a six-round shootout with Cale Makar scoring the game-winner. The second matchup on Feb. 10 was a 3-2 win at Ball Arena.

While the Avs swept the Nashville Predators in the first round and the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final, the St. Louis Blues handed the team their only two Stanley Cup playoff losses.

It’s been 21 years since the Avalanche won the Cup when now general manager Joe Sakic was the captain.

The series will begin in Denver at Ball Arena since Colorado has a better regular-season record than the Lightning. Game 1 is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

Full Stanley Cup Final schedule

  • Wednesday, June 15: Tampa Bay at Colorado
  • Saturday, June 18: Tampa Bay at Colorado
  • Monday, June 20: Colorado at Tampa Bay
  • Wednesday, June 22: Colorado at Tampa Bay
  • Friday, June 24: Tampa Bay at Colorado (if necessary)
  • Sunday, June 26: Colorado at Tampa Bay (if necessary)
  • Tuesday, June 28: Tampa Bay at Colorado (if necessary)