NHL Stanley Cup Final 2021: Updated Odds, Schedule for Canadiens vs. Lightning

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJuly 6, 2021

Montreal Canadiens right wing Josh Anderson (17) controls the puck next to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta (44) during the first period in Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup finals, Wednesday, June 30, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)
Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press

Is an improbable comeback now underway for the Montreal Canadiens? They're one step closer than they were entering Monday, but there's still a lot of work for them to do this week.

Facing elimination while down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup Final, the Canadiens extended their season for at least one more game by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in overtime at home in Monday's Game 4. The Habs are looking to become only the second team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final after the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Montreal has yet to lose this postseason when facing elimination, winning each of its four games in those situations. However, things are about to get more difficult with Wednesday's Game 5 set to be played in Tampa, where the Lightning have been unbeatable of late.

Here's a look at how the Stanley Cup Final currently stands heading into Game 5:

  • Game 1: Tampa Bay won 5-1
  • Game 2: Tampa Bay won 3-1
  • Game 3: Tampa Bay won 6-3
  • Game 4: Montreal won 3-2 (OT)
  • Game 5: Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET, NBC
  • Game 6 (if necessary): Friday at 8 p.m. ET, NBC
  • Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, NBC


Latest Stanley Cup Odds

Tampa Bay Lightning: -2000 (bet $2,000 to win $100)

Montreal Canadiens: +1100 (bet $100 to win $1,100)

Via DraftKings Sportsbook

The Lightning never trailed during the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, as they cruised to three straight victories. The first two came at home, where they've won five straight games and outscored opponents 21-4 during that stretch.

If the Canadiens are going to keep their season alive, they're going to need to find a way to win at Amalie Arena. And it's not going to be easy.

However, Montreal finally has some momentum. Although it couldn't close things out in regulation—Tampa Bay's Pat Maroon scored the game-tying goal with 6:12—things quickly went the Habs' way in overtime.

It took only 3:57 in the extra period before Josh Anderson scored his second goal of the game, lifting the Canadiens to victory. But that was only one win. Can they reel off three more?

"We understood the hole that we were in, but we just kind of talked about it: find a way to win one game here," Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher said, per John Wawrow of the Associated Press. "[Anderson] stepped up and scored a couple of big goals for us. It’s going to be the same thing next game."

And potentially the next game and the one after that. It isn't the Canadiens' first adversity of the playoffs, though, as they overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Maple Leafs in the first round. Plus, goaltender Carey Price just played his best game of the series, as he collected 32 saves and allowed only two goals.

Up to that point, the Lightning had fared better in this highly anticipated goaltending matchup, as Andrei Vasilevskiy continues to have a stellar postseason. But Price is capable of playing better than he did in the first three games, as he did earlier in the playoffs and in Game 4.

If Price can get back on a roll and Montreal can give him enough offensive support, it's possible things could continue to swing in its favor.

Considering the Canadiens have been the biggest underdog of the postseason, it seems fitting that they're trying to pull off one final surprise. They had the fewest regular-season points of the 16 teams to reach the playoffs, and after upsetting the Maple Leafs, they also knocked off the Winnipeg Jets and Vegas Golden Knights.

As for the Lightning, this isn't an unfamiliar position for them, either. In last year's Stanley Cup Final, they had a 3-1 lead over the Dallas Stars, then lost Game 5, falling 3-2 in double overtime. Tampa Bay then immediately bounced back, ending the series with a 2-0 win in Game 6.

The Lightning will be looking to win the Cup on their home ice on Wednesday night and to prevent the Canadiens from establishing any more momentum before this becomes a competitive series.

"Sometimes you play pretty good and it's a break here, a break there that just doesn't go your way. You just go to keep working through it," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said, per Wawrow. "No hanging our heads."

If the Lightning win Game 5, then they'll be celebrating. Not only that, but they'd be the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins did so in 2016 and 2017.

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