There is plenty of silver lining for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who failed to complete a sweep of the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 on Monday night. Montreal’s Josh Anderson scored in overtime to push the Stanley Cup Finals back to Tampa for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Now, Tampa Bay gets the chance to finally win a Stanley Cup at home in front of fans. The Lightning are -220 online betting favorites to do just that with the comeback on the Canadiens at +180. As inspiring as Monday’s win was for Montreal, Tampa Bay will not play two bad games in a row and should win the Cup on home ice.
Canadiens: Looking for an Encore
The Montreal Canadiens put forth one of their gutsiest performances as they finally beat the Lightning 3-2. Carey Price outplayed Andrei Vasilevskiy for the first time in the series, making 32 of 34 saves, including all nine from Tampa’s power play.
Montreal may have gotten outshot 34-21, but it managed to do the unthinkable: hold Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Victor Hedman to no points. Still, the Canadiens needed overtime to get by. But a win is a win and Montreal knows it just needs a little breathing room to regain its confidence.
The Canadiens can look to “stealing” another game and to keep postponing the celebrations for Tampa Bay. Price will once again need to be stellar while their penalty kill stays on point. If any underdog can overcome these NHL odds, it’s these Canadiens.
Lightning: Winning at Home
The Lightning won the Stanley Cup at the Rogers Place last year in the NHL bubble. Now, they get to win one in front of their fans at home, just like the city’s mayor wanted. But that loss against the Canadiens was not what the Lightning wanted, even if some of their best players were far from their best.
Vasilevskiy was off and allowed three goals on just 21 shots while the “Big Four” skaters from Tampa all came away pointless. Still, despite their stars looking lackluster, Tampa Bay came this close to winning the game. The Lightning will play a lot better this time around, that much is almost guaranteed.
Returning home to Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay will look to revive its offense and namely its power play. Tampa is just 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) on the power play, a far cry from the 37.7 percent they brought into the series. And, most notably, Vasilevskiy has three shutouts in Tampa’s series winners. They’re gearing up for a big effort to bring the cup back home.
Pick: Still The Best
With all due respect to Montreal, but this Stanley Cup Finals is more like a first-round matchup in any standard NHL season. The Lightning have continued to prove they are just on a different playing field.
Tampa’s offense has cut through Montreal’s physical defense. Even when the likes of Kucherov and Point are not scoring or, when their power play is misfiring, the Lightning are finding ways to get through the usually unbeatable Price.
Game 4 would be just an aberration for the Lightning. They were outplaying Montreal in their own ice, gaining 14 high danger chances to the Habs’ four while registering at 60.2% on the Corsi share on 5-on-5. Now back in Tampa, the Lightning will finish the job like they were supposed to.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -220
Bonus Pick: Closing It in Style
The Lightning will win this game and they’ll do it emphatically. They’ve doubled the Canadiens’ goal total at 16 and won by at least two goals in their three wins. That’s money on the puck line.
Tampa should be able to score first and hold that lead to the latter half of the third period. Montreal will pull Price and the Lightning will score an empty netter or two to clinch their second straight Stanley Cup.