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Avalanche to win 

It’s been a tough go in the Stanley Cup Final for me, but we’ll see if we can get back on track in Game 4. The Lightning finally looked like their old selves in Game 3 and the Avalanche didn’t get the stops they needed from Darcy Kuemper this time around.

Tampa Bay is back in it, but the underlying numbers of Game 3 still favored the Avalanche. Andrei Vasilevskiy was the difference-maker that he needed to be for his team and the Lightning did manage to limit high-danger chances, especially at five-on-five. Possession, outside of a strong first period from the Bolts, swung decisively in Colorado’s favor. That’s where I get a bit more concerned about Tampa’s chances.

I’ve believed Tampa would take this series in six games, but the Avalanche’s push has been so dramatically strong, it’s getting harder to see a scenario where they don’t win the title. A win in Game 4 gives them a chance to win the Stanley Cup on home ice. This is a position most of the Colorado roster is unfamiliar with, but it’s an opportunity they can’t miss. The players were all saying the right things after the loss and even though they were beaten handily on the scoreboard, they did not appear rattled.

Game 3 was the Avs’ first road loss of these playoffs and they have not yet been beaten in back-to-back games. I’m not certain the Lightning are going to be able to be the first team to accomplish that feat. On top of Colorado playing better for large swathes of this series, the Lightning are dealing with a number of injuries. Brayden Point missed the last game, Nikita Kucherov is expected to play but might be a bit banged up after leaving Game 3, and a number of players on both sides look like they’re playing through injury.

The Lightning are going to be awfully tough to beat on home ice and Vasilevskiy looks especially dialed in, which could be a problem for Colorado, but I still think the bulk of this series has been controlled by Colorado, and even though Tampa won Monday, it did not feel like they had wrestled control of the series away from the Avalanche.

Over 6 total goals 

The over has hit in every game and every game I’ve played the under. So fade me if you must, because I thought we’d see a lot stronger defensive play and goaltending from both sides. We just haven’t gotten it.

I think there has to be some concern about Vasilevskiy wearing down some. He has played almost every minute of every playoff game over the last three seasons. It’s remarkable. It also might be catching up with him.

Both teams have so many offensive weapons that it’s just hard to see the scoring slowing down. The games tend to start quick and stay pretty hot. The trend of the series is that the over is going to hit, so we’ll stick with that trend.

Cale Makar anytime goal scorer 

Less than 24 hours after winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, I would not be surprised to see Makar really go off in this game.

He’s been going off offensively for the last two games, with four points and nine shots on goal over the last two contests. The NHL’s leading goal scorer among defensemen this season, Makar has seven tallies this postseason. He’s been one of Colorado’s most active offensive players over the last two games.

While some might view his having to be at the NHL Awards ceremony the night before this game as a distraction, I think Makar is going to be emboldened by the recognition. Individual awards are nice, but championships are what they play for. I fully expect him to be energized and impactful in Game 4.

Steven Stamkos over 3.5 shots on goal 

The Lightning are still going to be in desperation mode in this game and few players have been as effective when the team’s backs are against the wall than the captain. Steven Stamkos had five shots on goal in Game 3, picking up a goal and an assist in the contest. He was engaged, competitive and lifted his team when they needed it most.

Stamkos has played some of his best hockey with his team trailing in games or series. He has had four or more shots in seven of 20 games this postseason and I’d anticipate he gets a lot of ice time and a lot of opportunity to do it again in Game 4.