Home ice advantage has actually been a detriment to this point in this series. Tampa Bay went into Carolina to win the first two games, but the Hurricanes were able to upend the Lightning in Florida for Game 3. The Lightning still have a chance to take a commanding lead in this series if they win Game 4 though. That would put Tampa Bay up 3-1 and give the Lightning a great chance of advancing to defend the Stanley Cup.
Game 4 puck drops Saturday, June 5, 2021, 4 p.m. ET at the Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida. Watch on USA.
Carolina vs Tampa Bay Game 4 Odds
Money Line: Hurricanes +133 | Lightning -153
Puck Line: Hurricanes +1.5 -195 | Lightning -1.5 +166
Series So Far
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been great in this series for Tampa Bay. The Vezina Trophy finalist and presumed frontrunner stopped 37 of 38 shots in Game 1 to lead the Lightning to a 2-1 win. The only goal that Vasilevskiy allowed was on the power play, and he was flawless outside of that.
The main story in Game 2 was Vasilevskiy once again. He stopped 31 of the 32 shots he saw in Game 2 to lead Tampa Bay to another 2-1 win. Carolina’s lone goal came with just 90 seconds to play in the third period, as the Hurricanes had pulled their goalie in an effort to send the game to overtime. The last two minutes of the game was madness as the Hurricanes poured on the pressure, but Vasilevskiy held firm and the Lightning won despite finishing with just 15 shots on goal.
Carolina finally picked up a win in Game 3. Sebastian Aho had a goal and an assist within two minutes and 25 seconds in the second period to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead, but the Lightning evened the score by the end of the period thanks to power play goals from Brayden Point and Alex Killorn. The game went to overtime after a scoreless third period, and Jordan Staal gave the Hurricanes a victory with a power play goal in OT.
The Hurricanes benched rookie goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic for Game 3 in favor of veteran Petr Mrazek. It was Mrazek’s first start of the playoffs, and he might start again in Game 4 given Carolina picked up the win in Tampa.
If Carolina goes that route, it would be a mistake. Nedeljkovic had a 1.90 GAA and a .932 save percentage in the regular season, while Mrazek posted a 2.06 GAA with a .923 save percentage. There’s a reason the Hurricanes went with the rookie in the first place when the playoffs started, and he has been solid in his eight starts.
Nedeljkovic has a 2.18 GAA and a .920 save percentage this postseason. Mrazek was a little slow going from side to side against the Lightning on Thursday, and they will punish that if he starts in Game 4.
Tampa Bay has an exceptional power play. The Lightning scored both their goals on the man advantage in Game 3, and this unit is converting on 39.3% of its chances this postseason. Nikita Kucherov has accumulated 10 of his 14 points these playoffs on the power play, and defenseman Victor Hedman has doled out eight assists.
Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, and Steven Stamkos have all been huge difference makers too as part of this unit. Hedman is the only defenseman on the power play, and that gives the Lightning all sorts of firepower.
Carolina vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 4 Prediction
Our best bet: Tampa Bay -153
For the Hurricanes to win this game and win this series, they need to play low-scoring physical games against the Lightning. Carolina has two solid forwards in Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal, but this team largely wins through its defense and goaltending.
Tampa Bay has much more explosiveness on the offensive end, and it’s only a matter of time before the Lightning score more than two goals in this series. There’s a good chance that happens on Saturday afternoon.
Check out today’s NHL Playoff odds.