Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 2 Betting Preview

Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning Game 2 Betting Preview

The Stanley Cup Final got off to a high-intensity start on Monday, with the Lightning earning the 5-1 win to take Game 1. Will they double their lead, or will the Canadiens respond with a win to even the series?

Here is a closer look at what happened in Game 1, who to look out for in Game 2, and a final betting pick. Tampa Bay is once again a massive favorite at -220, while Montreal comes in at +184.

Series Recap

After a tight two periods of action in Game 1, the Bolts pulled out three goals in the third period to win 5-1. Their scoring outburst put a bow on a game in which Tampa outshot their opponents 27-19.

Of all of the players, it was defenseman Erik Cernak who netted the opening goal of the series, his first of the postseason, less than seven minutes into the first period. Left-wing Yanni Gourde doubled the Tampa Bay lead in the second period, but d-man Ben Chiarot managed to get one back for the Habs to make it a one-goal game heading to the final frame.

Then in the third, it was Tampa’s big-time playmakers who helped them pull away. Right-wing Nikita Kucherov scored twice, his sixth and seventh goals of the playoffs, while center Steven Stamkos added a power-play goal with 70 seconds to go in regulation. Center Brayden Point also played a big hand in the offense, as the big-time goal-scorer was kept out of the net but still managed to rack up a trio of assists.

Players to Watch

With Tampa Bay loaded with scoring depth, it’s up to Montreal’s top scorers to rise to the challenge in Game 2. That includes veteran right-wing and former Cup champ Tyler Toffoli, who still leads the Canadiens with 14 points despite only registering a point in one of his last five games.

Center Nick Suzuki is another player in need of a bounceback. After a phenomenal three-point effort in Game 5 against the Golden Knights, Suzuki didn’t even register a shot against the Lightning and had a team-worst -3 rating.

As for the Bolts, Montreal did a good job of at least slowing the top-line guys like Kucherov and Point until the third period. Assuming they can do that again in Game 2, a depth guy like left wing Alex Killorn, who has just one assist in the last three games, may be tasked with a little more.

Defenseman Victor Hedman is the best blue-liner on the ice this series, but he’s another player who Tampa would love to see break out of his funk. The former Norris Trophy winner has just two assists over his last five games, with both of those assists coming in Tampa’s 8-0 thrashing of the Islanders in the previous round.

Key Stat

Although the 5-1 score in Game 1 made the matchup look lopsided, Montreal hung in closer than many think. The Habs finished with an expected goal share of near-47 percent and collected just one fewer high danger chance than the Lightning did when the teams were at even strength.

Betting Pick

The first game was easily Carey Price’s worst outing of the postseason, so it’s reasonable to expect Montreal’s stud goaltender to bounce back with a better effort in Game 2. However, an improved performance from Price doesn’t change the fact that the Habs will need to do a lot better than 19 shots on goal against another elite goalie in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

The odds to take the Lightning to win straight up don’t present enough value, even though I believe they’ll end up winning Wednesday’s game. Instead, if I am betting, I’m looking at two stud goalies who can keep the game much lower-scoring than the six goals we saw in Game 1.

Pick: Under 5.5 Goals -170

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