Before Game 4 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final between the Lightning and Canadiens in Montreal on Monday, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said she wanted the Lightning to lose so they could clinch the Cup on home ice in Game 5 tonight. Castor took some heat for that but got her wish. Tampa Bay is a heavy -240 moneyline favorite on the William Hill Sportsbook NHL odds to eliminate the Habs and become the second team this century to repeat – although the Bolts again are expected to be without a top forward in Alex Killorn.
Killorn was not at the team's morning skate Wednesday so that pretty much says he's not playing – Coach Jon Cooper is calling the left winger doubtful. Despite having not played since Game 1 of this series, he remains fifth on the team with 17 points in this postseason. The game will go on as scheduled even though the Tampa area took a bit of a hit with Tropical Storm Elsa on Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning.
Tampa Bay is expected to have the same lineup as Game 4 as is Montreal, which won 3-2 in overtime to avoid the sweep after coach Dominique Ducharme inserted Alexander Romanov, Brett Kulak and Jake Evans into the lineup while removing Erik Gustafsson, Jon Merrill and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Romanov had a third-period goal for a 2-1 lead. Evans had an assist in the victory.
If recent history is any indication, the Lightning will finish things off tonight – this writer believes so -- as they haven't lost consecutive playoff games since being swept in the 2019 first round by Columbus. That's an amazing streak spanning 47 contests. Tampa has an NHL-best eight home wins in these playoffs and is averaging 4.09 goals per game at Amalie Arena.
The Lightning's Brayden Point is the +150 favorite for an anytime goal and +750 to be the game's first goalscorer. He's +2800 for a hat trick. The most points by any player in a Stanley Cup-clinching game is five by Montreal's Toe Blake in Game 4 of the 1944 Final.
William Hill will open 2022 Stanley Cup futures odds as soon as this series ends, but there's no question the Lightning will be favored.
Game 5 trends via NHL.com:
- Teams with a 3-1 lead in a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Final hold an all-time record of 34-1 in the series.
- The Canadiens are 56-39 all-time in Game 5 of best-of-7 series, including 14-6 in the Stanley Cup Final and 2-0 in these playoffs.
- The Lightning are 15-12 all-time in Game 5 of a best-of-7 series, including 0-3 in the Stanley Cup Final and 2-1 in these playoffs.
- Since its first postseason berth in 1996, Tampa Bay has only dropped consecutive games in which it can clinch a series three times.
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