The Tampa Bay Lightning's first chance to close out the Stanley Cup Final comes Monday in Game 4.
The Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens in each of the first three contests to earn an opportunity to land the first Stanley Cup Final sweep since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998.
Jon Cooper's team is also aiming to be the first repeat champion since the 2016-17 Pittsburgh Penguins.
Tampa Bay outscored Montreal 14-5 in the first three games, so the Canadiens need a stellar performance out of star goaltender Carey Price to win.
The Lightning are favored to capture Game 4, and the over/under is set for five goals. If they cash in on that tag to win the title Monday, the over should be in play since their offense was spectacular in Games 1 and 3.
However, the Canadiens will not go down without a fight on their home ice, and if they play better defensively, they should remain in the contest.
Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Odds
Money Line: Tampa Bay -159 (bet $159 to win $100); Montreal +138 (bet $100 to win $138)
Puck Line: Tampa Bay (-1.5)
All of the playoff magic the Canadiens used to reach the Stanley Cup Final disappeared in the first three games versus Tampa Bay.
Montreal needs a handful of miracles to come back from three games down to win the series. Earning one victory is a much more manageable task at this point.
The Canadiens will be playing for pride to avoid the first sweep in the championship series in more than two decades. Only one Stanley Cup Final in the past six years lasted five games. Montreal needs to be wary of another poor start on home ice. In Game 3, Tampa Bay scored twice in the first four minutes. One of those goals came on the power play.
The Habs have not won the first period in any of the three games. They were behind at the first intermission in Games 1 and 3 and were tied through 20 minutes in Game 2. They were still sloppy in the first frame of Game 2 by committing three penalties. However, Tampa Bay managed just 23 shots in that contest.
If Montreal can bottle the defensive performance from Game 2 and bring that into Game 4 while taking fewer penalties, it stands a chance of sending the series back to Amalie Arena.
If that is the case, the Canadiens can keep the game close and at least cover the puck line. Winning might be tough with Bolts goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in great form, but a strong defensive showing would at least give the Canadiens a fighting chance.
Brayden Point to Score (+155)
Brayden Point has not scored since the end of his nine-game goal streak in Game 7 against the New York Islanders. In fact, he has only earned points in one of the three Stanley Cup Final games—three assists in Game 2.
Point is overdue to find the back of the net again, and he should one of the focal points of Tampa Bay's attack.
Nikita Kucherov has worked his way into the starring role with three goals and two assists, but the Lightning need to spread the wealth when it comes to scoring chances.
Point failed to record a shot on goal in a little under 17 minutes of ice time in Game 3 and had a single attempt on target in Game 2.
When the Lightning had their first opportunity to clinch the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Point produced five shots on target and two assists versus the Dallas Stars. The shot total was his highest in the six games of that series.
Look for Point to be more aggressive in front of the net Monday, and that could lead to the end of a rare four-game scoreless run.
Statistics obtained from Hockey Reference.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL).
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (NJ/WV/PA), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or call or text the TN REDLINE: 800-889-9789 (TN).
21+. NJ/PA/WV/IN/IA/CO/IL/TN only. In partnership with Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.