The clock may have stuck midnight for the Montreal Canadiens. After losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final they head home hoping to get back in the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Montreal played much better in Wednesday’s 3-1 setback, but they aren’t good enough to beat Tampa when they shoot themselves in the foot. The Habs have relied on a stingy defense and stellar goaltending to get this far, but they’ve been beaten at their own game potting just one goal in each of the first two contests.
Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final takes place on Friday, July 2, 2021 and will air live on NBC with puck drop at 8 p.m. ET from Bell Centre in Montreal.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Montreal Canadiens Game 3 Odds
Money Line: Lightning -150 | Canadiens +130 [BET NOW]
Puck Line: Lightning -1.5 +199 | Canadiens +1.5 -240 [BET NOW]
Total: 5 [BET NOW]
Series to Date
You might not agree with my math, but the Lightning are 90 percent of the way to repeating as Stanley Cup champions. How is that you ask since they’ve won two games? Well, the team that wins the first two contests of the Cup finals goes on to win, you guessed it, 90 percent of the time. There’s still that 10 percent chance for the Canadiens and they’ve been down and counted once already this postseason.
They stormed back to beat the heavily favored Maple Leafs three in a row in the first round to take that series in seven games. And there were some good things that took place on Wednesday. The Habs dominated for long stretches and battered Andrei Vasilevskiy with 43 shots after totaling just 19 in the opener. But the bottom line is they have to score and they haven’t done enough of that in this series.
Tampa can beat teams in so many ways and that was on display in Game 2. It was a reversal from the opener when the Lightning outskated the Habs on their way to a 5-1 victory. And with their top offensive performers having an off night they got goals from Anthony Cirelli, Blake Coleman and Ondrej Palat.
But the best player on the ice was Vasilevskiy, who turned away 42 shots and was beaten for the second straight game on a fluky shot. Vasilevskiy has outplayed his counterpart Carey Price in the first two games and has a .939 save percentage this postseason.
Lightning So Far…
Coach Jon Cooper said he’d rather not rely on his goaltender to win games, but what a treat having a guy like Vasilevskiy between the pipes. After the first two games stopping 60 of 62 shots he’s the front runner for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
He’s come up big in the last few outings blanking the Islanders in Game 7 of the semifinals and allowing just five goals in his last five games. When opponents have to work extra hard to beat him it leads to breakdowns on the other end, and the Lightning have taken advantage.
Tampa had limited chances on Wednesday but they cashed in when they got them. Coleman’s goal came late in the second period breaking a 1-1 tie and Palat sealed the victory when Montreal’s defense had a breakdown. “It’s no secret he’s (Vasilevskiy) the reason we were still in this game. Then we made the big plays when it mattered,” Coleman said. Winning when they don’t play their best shows us just how good the Lightning are.
Canadiens So Far…
It’s not a must-win situation for the Canadiens but it’s damn close. As mentioned taking the first two games results in a league title 90 percent of the time, so the Habs better turn things around. They will benefit from being at home for the next two games.
They are 5-1 in their last six games at Bell Centre with the only loss in that span in overtime in Game 4 of the Vegas series. The Habs just aren’t on the same level as Tampa and giving away goals is a killer. They played their game through the first two periods and were just a few seconds away from escaping with a 1-1 tie.
Giving up a late goal was a crusher and Tampa’s third marker was inexcusable. A bad exchange behind their net led to tap in marker and Montreal was all but done. The Habs don’t have the firepower to play catch up and the game’s all but over if they fall behind by a couple of goals.
They need more offense to take some pressure off Price, who despite the lack of scoring has been solid between the pipes. The UNDER is 3-1-1 in the Habs last five games and they’ve played below the total 10 times overall.
Lightning vs Canadiens Game 3 Prediction
Our picks: Montreal Canadiens +130 and OVER 5
The Habs have plenty of grit and the series isn’t over. Maybe it’s time for them to catch a few breaks and if they play as well as they did on Wednesday they can win this game. They need to solve Vasilevskiy, though. They will have an extra boost playing at home and they can match lines better having the last change. And they don’t need a lot of offense, just more than one goal. I expect the Habs will breakthrough and makes this a series.
Check out today’s NHL Stanley Cup odds.