Was Game 4 the Start of an Epic Comeback, or the Last Gasp for Montreal?
Series Shifts Back to Tampa Bay for Game 5 on Wednesday
Give the Montreal Canadiens credit.
Many of us thought they were done. We predicted they'd lose Game 4 and the Stanley Cup Finals would end in a sweep, the first 4-0 result in the NHL championship in 23 years.
Boy, we got that wrong.
Instead, the Habs played their best game of the series and showed that when things come together, they can beat anyone. Now, the big question is – can they do it three more times?
The Canadiens are prohibitive underdogs going into Game 5 in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night. So far, it hasn’t been easy for Montreal south of the border where they're 0-2 and have been outscored 8-2.
According to SPREADS.CA, here's the latest numbers:
One striking difference between Tampa Bay and Montreal is how each team has fared in overtime.
The extra ice time has not been good to the Lightning in this postseason. Incredibly, Tampa Bay is now a woeful 0-4 in games that aren’t decided in regulation. In fact, they've lost an OT game in each of their four playoff series.
Conversely, Montreal has thrived after regulation ends. The Canadiens are now 6-1 in overtime during this postseason. They needed to win both of their overtime games against Toronto in order to advance, and they also benefited from the extra frame against Las Vegas in the semi-finals.
So, if Game 5 gets to OT, one has to like the Habs chances.
The problem is, tonight's matchup likely will end in regulation. Consider that Montreal played about as well as they could, and still could have lost with a bad break here or there. Tampa Bay missed several chances and was a listless 0-4 on power plays and also missed one open net shot late in the game. The Lightning actually outshot the Canadiens 34 to 21 over 65 minutes. The opening period showed Tampa Bay outshooting Montreal 12 to 5.
So, look for Tampa Bay to come out strong and confident back on their home ice. Tonight, we're likely to see the Lightning team show up that won Games 1-2-3, not the team that lost Game 4.
Prediction: Despite the Game 4 loss in OT, Tampa Bay remains the better team and now has the opportunity to win a second Stanley Cup within just 10 months. Look for the home team Lightning to close out the series with a victory in Game 5. Final score projection: Tampa Bay 3, Montreal 1