Time: 8:00 PM Eastern
Location: Amalie Arena
Broadcast/Streaming: NBC, CBC, TVAS, SN, Peacock
Opponent SB Nation Site: HabsEyesOnThePrize
On Monday the Tampa Bay Lightning unintentionally fulfilled Tampa’s major Jane Castor’s wish, losing Game 4, and tonight will have a chance to clinch the Stanley Cup in front of their fans in Amalie Arena. The Lightning have not been successful in their attempts to close out the series on first try at late stages of the playoffs in two past years, failing to do it at last year’s ECF and SCF and repeating it during this year’s semifinal and SCF.
The Lightning were very close to end the series on Monday, but the Hockey Gods™ decided that the Canadiens don’t deserve to be swept in their first final series since 1993. The Bolts hit the post three times, including a moment three minutes before the end of regulation, when Nikita Kucherov had an open net in front of him. The Lightning were a dominant team this night, but an opportunistic effort by the Habs and Carey Price, who played his best game against the Lightning this series, didn’t let them win.
Another thing to blame is the Lightning’s power play – one of the most dominant units of this postseason went scoreless, despite having five opportunities, including one four-minute man advantage at the end of regulation which continued into overtime. So far in the series the Lightning are at 16 PP%, which resulted in dropping their overall power play percentage to 33.9 PP%.
According to Jon Cooper, there’s still a chance that Alex Killorn will be able to return for Game 5. A Lightning forward missed the previous three games after blocking a Jeff Petry’s shot with his left ankle during Game 1. Killorn participated in pre-game skate on Monday, but didn’t play and was replaced by Mathieu Joseph.
As for the Conn Smythe Trophy Watch, it seems like Nikita Kucherov stands out as the lone favorite. Andrei Vasilevskiy has been relatively quiet lately, finishing both previous games with a negative goals saved above expected rate, and lost the goaltending duel against Carey Price in the last game. Nikita Kucherov didn’t record any point in his last game, but had a strong game, recording four shots on goal, while his line dominated the opponent with 64.88 xGF%. He could have cemented the trophy by scoring a game-winning goal at the end of regulation, but his shot hit the post after deflection.
The main concern before the game remained hurricane Elsa, which hit Tampa Bay region this morning.
Tampa Bay has been in Elsa's path ever since the storm formed. But Elsa saved its best trick for last:— Tampa Bay Times (@TB_Times) July 7, 2021
The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm 60 miles offshore of Tampa.https://t.co/qaasV6AAbV
Much like the Elsa, hopefully we already saw the Canadiens’ strongest surge.
Tampa Bay Lightning Lines and Pairings
Ondrej Palat - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Ross Colton - Anthony Cirelli - Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow - Yanni Gourde - Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon - Tyler Johnson - Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman - Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev - David Savard
Montreal Canadiens Lines and Pairings
Artturi Lehkonen - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Tyler Toffoli - Nick Suzuki - Cole Caufield
Paul Byron - Jake Evans- Josh Anderson
Joel Armia - Eric Staal - Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot - Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson - Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov - Brett Kulak