The Montreal Canadiens have the history but do they have the talent and will to knock off the defending champions? The Tampa Bay Lightning proved in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final that they aren’t going to relinquish their crown easily using a relentless attack to take the series lead with a 5-1 victory.
Don’t count the Habs out yet, though. Underdogs the entire postseason they knocked off the heavily favored Maple Leafs in the opening round and did the same to the Vegas Golden Knights in the semis after dropping the opener of that series 4-1.
Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final takes place on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 and will air live on NBCSN with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET from Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL.
Montreal Canadiens at Tampa Bay Lightning Game 2 Odds
Money Line: Canadiens +180 | Lightning -220 [BET NOW]
Puck Line: Canadiens +1.5 -145 | Lightning -1.5 +125 [BET NOW]
Total: 5 [BET NOW]
Series to Date
Doubt them all you want the Canadiens just keep winning this postseason. The team with the fewest regular season points of anyone in the postseason, they used a monumental comeback to beat Toronto in the opening round that carried them to this point. They embraced the underdog role using stellar defense and solid goaltending to go 12-5 through the first three rounds.
They don’t score a ton of goals but they haven’t had to with Carey Price allowing two goals or fewer in 12 of their 17 games before the Stanley Cup Finals. Their current situation isn’t unfamiliar. Montreal dropped Game 1 of the Vegas series 4-1 only to win four of the next five while yielding a total of nine goals.
Tampa Bay has gotten outstanding goaltending as well from Andrei Vasilevskiy, but they also have a much stronger offensive team. They can run and gun with the best of them and can also shut down opponents when the going gets tough. Vasilevskiy pitched a pair of shutouts in the final three games of the semifinal series with the New York Islanders stopping all 18 shots in the 1-0 Game 7 clincher.
Tampa can’t get complacent after a dominating win, though. The Lightning can look at what happened to Vegas in the semifinals for proof. And while winning Game 1 is huge it hasn’t been a factor in previous Stanley Cup Finals. The opening game loser has gone on to hoist the Cup the last four seasons, including Tampa in 2020 overcoming a 4-1 setback to Dallas.
It’s abundantly clear what the Canadiens need to do in order to even the series. They are 10-2 when holding opponents to two goals or less so they have to be sharp defensively. I’m not sure what’s more impressive their record in those games or the fact that they held good offensive clubs to such a low total 12 times. Either way defense has been the key to their success cashing the UNDER nine times.
At some point they will need to create more offense. Tyler Toffoli led them with 28 goals during the regular season and has gone five straight games without hitting the back of the net. They managed just 19 shots on Monday night with their only marker coming on a double doink deflection that went in off the skate of Tampa’s Ryan McDonagh. It doesn’t matter how good Price is the Habs won’t win unless they produce some offense.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa clearly has the edge offensively and it showed on Monday with their big guns supplying plenty of offense. It’s almost unfair that Nikita Kucherov skips the entire regular season only to reappear in the playoffs to lead all scorers. Kucherov was magical on the ice showing no effects from a hit he took in Game 6 of the Islanders series that sent him to the dressing room. Kucherov netted a pair of goals and Steven Stamkos also lit the lamp. Brayden Point chipped in three assists.
The Lightning have scored at least five goals in a game six times this postseason averaging 3.32 goals per game. And they get production from the entire lineup making them tough to defend. It’s even more difficult to matchup against them at home when Tampa has the last change. The Lightning have won four straight games on home ice outscoring opponents 18-3 in that span while playing OVER the closing total in three of them.
Canadiens vs Lightning Game 2 Prediction
Our picks: Tampa Bay Lightning -220 and OVER 5
Montreal is a feel good story in the sports world and especially for fans north of the border. But the Lightning are a different foe than they’ve faced this postseason. Beating Toronto and Vegas was special, but Tampa is the defending champ with a relentless attack. They are beatable and the Habs are resilient, but this game is for the home team.
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