The Tampa Bay Lightning weren’t going to outright give away Game 4, but failing to close out the series in Montreal wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world. As it turned out, the Lightning lost 3-2 in overtime and now have the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup at home in front of a packed house at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning have their heaviest favorite price of the series in the -235 range at Bookmaker Sportsbook with a total of 5 in Game 5. The Canadiens are hoping to push the series back to the Bell Centre for Game 6, but they face a really tall, uphill climb to do that.
Carey Price is the reason why we have a Game 5 in this series. The Lightning did not look like a team actively seeking a Gentlemen’s Sweep. Price was under duress at 5-v-5 most of the night and faced a lot of high-danger chances from Tampa Bay, while his offense generated very little.
The Canadiens had an Expected Goals For (xGF) of 1.14 at 5-v-5 to a 2.76 mark for the Lightning. Montreal’s 15 scoring chances were the fewest of any game in the series and their four high-danger chances were also a series low. It was the kind of game that Montreal had no business winning, but Price had an excellent game reminiscent of what he did in the previous three series.
It was enough to push the series out to Game 5, but if the Habs play the same way again, this series will be over. They were the better team at 5-v-5 in Game 2, so the last line change wasn’t hurtful in that spot. In fact, Game 4 was the worst game that the Habs played, but they won it. Hockey can be weird that way.
In the two games in Tampa, the Canadiens did have more scoring chances at 5-v-5, so they showed the ability to play with the Lightning. They’ll have to do the same tonight if they want to extend the series.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Look, it makes for a great story for Tampa Bay to win the Stanley Cup at home, but they did not play at all like a team punting Game 4. Not even in the slightest. They attacked well and had the better chances. They even had a power play at the end of regulation that leaked over into the overtime period that was supposed to be the open door to charge through for the trophy, but it did not happen.
With a 3-0 lead, the Lightning definitely had some margin for error, so they won’t panic or feel bad about what happened. In fact, it could be a blessing in disguise, as the chance to win the Cup in front of the home fans is now very, very real. The Lightning are in their biggest favorite role of the series, so that seems like the most likely outcome.
It sure seemed like Tampa Bay figured out Montreal in the two games north of the border. After a pretty poor Game 2 showing in which the Bolts were bailed out by Andrei Vasilevskiy, they outchanced Montreal 49-32 in the two games in Quebec at 5-v-5 and had a 24-9 edge in high-danger chances.
There really isn’t much more to say about Tampa Bay than that. There is no excuse for not ending the series tonight.
Canadiens vs. Lightning Free Pick
Everybody in the world is going to be on Tampa Bay tonight. “There is no way they lose at home.” “They lost Game 4 on purpose.” All the narratives will be used as justification for betting the Bolts in this spot. It is hard to see Tampa Bay losing tonight, especially after being far and away the best team in the last two games of the series.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning