NHL Betting: Lightning Strikes Twice in Montreal
If you’re going to make a statement in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring six goals against the presumptive Hart Trophy winner is a good way to do it. The Tampa Bay Lightning have taken a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Montreal Canadiens, winning Sunday’s Game 2 by a final score of 6-2 and cashing in as +122 road dogs on the moneyline. Game 3 takes place Wednesday night (7:00 PM ET, USA) at the Ice Palace.
Not only did the Lightning win their fourth game in a row, but they also saw top scorer Steven Stamkos (43 goals, 29 assists, 10.1 Point Shares) finally break out of his playoff slump. Stamkos scored his first goal of the postseason and added two assists, both on power-play goals by Nikita Kucherov (29 goals, 36 assists, 9.9 Point Shares). Tampa Bay ultimately scored four times on the man advantage as Montreal goaltender Carey Price (.933 save percentage, 16.2 Goalie Point Shares) suffered his worst defeat of the playoffs thus far.
It’s going to be very difficult for the Canadiens to come back in this series. They’ve lost seven straight games to Tampa Bay this year, and they also lost their composure on Sunday, committing needless penalties and putting the Bolts on the power play eight times. At the other end, the Habs went 0-for-3 on the man advantage to fall to 1-for-26 in these playoffs.
Montreal’s cause was hurt by the absence of center David Desharnais (14 goals, 34 assists, 5.6 PS), who missed Game 2 with the flu. Brian Flynn (five goals, 12 assists, 0.8 PS), scoreless in nine regular-season games for the Habs after coming over from the Buffalo Sabres at the trade deadline, played in Desharnais’ place and was held off the scoresheet in 14:18 of work. It’s unclear as we go to press what Desharnais’ status will be for Game 3.
If the Habs need some inspiration, they can look toward their opponents. The Lightning were 2-for-34 on the power play before breaking the seal in Game 2, and they were down 3-2 in their first-round series against the Detroit Red Wings after losing twice at home. But with Price getting shelled on Sunday, his playoff save percentage has dipped to .922, below Tampa’s Ben Bishop at .933.
Bishop (.916 SV%, 10.0 GPS during the regular season) might not win the Hart Trophy, but he could be well on his way to winning the Conn Smythe. And the Lightning could win the Stanley Cup for the second time in franchise history; going into the second round, they were 15/2 outsiders, while the Canadiens were 6/1. The futures market will look very different going into Game 3, especially now that Stamkos has ended his goal-scoring drought.