NHL Playoffs 2021: Latest Stanley Cup Scores, Standings, Odds and Predictions
One game will decide whether the Tampa Bay Lightning or New York Islanders will be heading to this year's Stanley Cup Final.
On Wednesday night, the Islanders extended their season by pulling out a 3-2 overtime victory on their home ice in a Game 6 matchup against the Lightning. The series returns to Florida on Friday for Game 7.
If the Isles hope to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1984, they will need a better showing than they had during their most recent trip to Tampa. In Game 5, New York lost to Tampa Bay 8-0.
The winner of that series will go on to face either the Montreal Canadiens or Vegas Golden Knights. The Canadiens have a 3-2 series lead over the Golden Knights heading into Thursday's Game 6 in Montreal.
Here's everything else you need to know regarding the Stanley Cup semifinal matchups.
2nd-Round Results, Schedule
No. 2 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 4 Montreal Canadiens
Game 1: Vegas won 4-1
Game 2: Montreal won 3-2
Game 3: Montreal won 3-2 (OT)
Game 4: Vegas won 2-1 (OT)
Game 5: Montreal won 4-1
Game 6: Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, USA Network
Game 7 (if necessary): Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
No. 3 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 New York Islanders
Game 1: New York won 2-1.
Game 2: Tampa Bay won 4-2
Game 3: Tampa Bay won 2-1
Game 4: New York won 3-2
Game 5: Tampa Bay won 8-0
Game 6: New York won 3-2 (OT)
Game 7: Friday at 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network
Current Stanley Cup Odds
Tampa Bay Lightning: +170 (bet $100 to win $170)
Montreal Canadiens: +305
Vegas Golden Knights: +325
New York Islanders: +400
Via NHL" target="_blank">DraftKings Sportsbook.
Golden Knights Will Bounce Back, Win Games 6 and 7
For the second time this postseason, the Golden Knights are facing elimination. But unlike the previous occurrence, this time isn't ahead of a Game 7 matchup.
Vegas lost 4-1 to Montreal in Game 5 on its home ice, which means it must win Games 6 and 7 in order to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. It's not the first time the Golden Knights have faced adversity in the playoffs—they went seven games with the Minnesota Wild in the first round and overcame a 2-0 deficit to the Colorado Avalanche in the second round.
However, this is Vegas' greatest challenge yet. Montreal has been the surprise team of the postseason, and it keeps defying expectations by winning big games. The Golden Knights have been one of the Stanley Cup favorites all season and weren't expected to be in this position entering the series with the Habs.
"I think we know we can play better than we did [in Game 5]," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said, per John Wawrow of the Associated Press. "And it's on us to come out and roll out our best game. We've got a group that's been here before. And I don't think we're overwhelmed by the position we're in."
But the Golden Knights haven't been to the Stanley Cup Final since 2017-18, their inaugural season. And even though they are in a precarious position, they are going to find a way to keep going.
While it's not yet known whether Marc-Andre Fleury or Robin Lehner will start in net for Vegas in Montreal, expect whoever plays to have a strong performance from here on out. The Golden Knights will feel a sense of urgency and generate more offense, allowing them to overcome this deficit and take down the Habs.
Lightning Will Edge Islanders in Competitive Game 7
In order for the Lightning to repeat as champions, they are first going to have to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. And to do that, they need to notch a home win over the Islanders in Friday's Game 7.
Tampa Bay hasn't had much trouble beating New York on its home ice of late. It won both Games 2 and 5 at Amalie Arena, the latter being an 8-0 victory that put the Lightning one win away from advancing. However, they couldn't close out the series on the road in Game 6.
As long as Tampa Bay keeps playing well in a friendly environment, its season will continue. But New York keeps finding ways to stay in this series, which may just happen again in the winner-take-all Game 7.
"We didn't get the job done [in Game 6], but we get to go back in front of our fans and get the job done there," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said, per Vin A. Cherwoo of the Associated Press.
That's the type of confidence coming from a team that has been here before and knows how to win on this big stage. And that's why Tampa Bay will "get the job done" in Game 7, just as Stamkos is predicting.
The Lightning are playing well defensively, with goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy leading the way. And while Game 7 will be more competitive than Game 5 because of the higher stakes, Tampa Bay will have a better offensive showing that it did in Game 6, and its experienced veterans will come through at key moments.
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