NHL picks: 4 best bets for Canadiens v Lightning Game 5
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night.
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Tampa Bay Lightning to win (-1.5)
The Montreal Canadiens showed great resolve to win Game 4, ensuring they would not be swept and giving themselves some life in a series few gave them a chance in. However, now they face the task that no team has accomplished in this postseason – beat the Lightning in consecutive games.
Tampa Bay has lost two previous potential clinching games – Game 5 against Florida and Game 6 against the New York Islanders. In each of the following games, Andrei Vasilevskiy shut out the opposition. Each of the previous three clinching games were shutouts as the man they call the Big Cat seems to turn super human. I thought he might do it in Game 4, but that didn’t happen.
With the Lightning being on home ice, I have a hard time seeing this series extending past tonight. In fact, I’m looking at the puckline as a way to juice a little extra value out of this one. Each of Tampa’s three previous wins have been by at least two goals and I thought they were the better team in Game 4, just didn’t get the result.
Montreal has a way of sticking around, so it might end up being a bit closer, but with Tampa being able to control the matchups with the last change on home ice, with Vasilevskiy being so solid in potential clinching games, and with Tampa knowing they missed an opportunity in that last game, I don’t think they’re going to leave any doubt in this one.
Under 5.5 total goals
As noted, the Lightning have recorded shutouts in their three previous series clinching games. They beat Florida 4-0, Carolina 2-0 and the New York Islanders 1-0. These games can be more tightly played when one team is on the verge of having its season ended.
I fully expect Carey Price to have his A game in this one as he did in Game 4. He needed that performance to build confidence and I’m sure he’ll be tougher to beat. Outside of that, you’ve got Vasilevskiy at the other end and he’s been prone to absolutely shut the door on the opposition.
With this being on home ice, I think the Lightning will be able to control the game a bit more and dictate the pace as they have in three of the four previous contests. The goaltending will keep the scoring down a bit.
Steven Stamkos to score anytime
After having to sit out the clinching game of the Stanley Cup Final last year, you know Stamkos is champing at the bit for a chance to make an impact on home ice. The Lightning captain has one goal in the series and isn’t the featured scorer on the team like he once was, but that creates some good value for him.
Stamkos has eight goals over the postseason and has made his impact more quietly than Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, but he’s still central to his team’s success. With him being healthy and having a chance to lift the Cup on home ice, I think we’ll see his best effort yet.
Nick Suzuki to have over 2.5 shots on goal
Suzuki has been Montreal’s best player over the course of the series. He has points in three of the four games and has created a lot of opportunities for his team. He had nine shots on goal by himself in Game 2, then two in each of the next two games.
He’s going to get a ton of ice time with his team’s season on the line. It won’t be as easy to get the matchup that allows him to produce offense, but I think he’s going to be a factor one way or another. His motor just does not quit. I’m not sure how much scoring the Habs are going to do, but I do think Suzuki will be able to get three or more shots on Andrei Vasilevskiy as he tries to will his team to extend the series.
BETWAY BOOST: Tampa Bay to win & Steven Stamkos to score anytime
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