There was always the possibility that the Tampa Bay Lightning would need some time to get their legs under them, and that was the case in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. After a fairly even first period in which the Lightning showed signs of fatigue, the Dallas Stars dominated the middle frame and took a two-goal lead into the third period. According to Evolving Hockey, the Stars generated about three expected goals through the first 40 minutes with 2.3 of those expected goals coming in period No. 2.
Heading into the third period, the Stars held a plus-21 shot differential and the Lightning had only generated 1.4 expected goals and 30 shot attempts. It was a different story in period No 3 as the Stars were only able to attempt three shots, while the Lightning fired 43 towards Anton Khudobin. The veteran goaltender stood tall, though, like he has throughout these playoffs, and the Lightning now find themselves in a 1-0 hole to start the series.
Looking ahead to Game 2 odds
The Stars carried a plus-135 price tag into Game 1, and while the opening line for Game 2 might be shaded a little more in their direction, we shouldn’t see a drastic shift in the odds. The Lightning should be priced around -150, unless Steven Stamkos makes a surprise return, of course. Expect the Lightning to remain the series favorite when bookmakers post their adjusted price for the Stanley Cup Final. By my estimation, the Lightning’s chances of hoisting the Cup have dropped from about 69 percent to approximately 54 percent.
The two teams combined to generate about six expected goals and 125 shot attempts. However, due to the strong play of Khudobin, and to a lesser extent, Andrei Vasilevskiy, only five goals were scored. This resulted is a push for those that bet into the game total market as it was set at 5 goals. The total was shaded to the over, and if it is again set at 5 even, that should be the case in Game 2.
With that being said, if you’re looking for goals, don’t count on the officials to influence the game unless they absolutely have to do so. When the Stanley Cup is on the line, only the most blatant violations are called, like a delay of game or high stick. Five power play opportunities a game, split between the two teams, is probably what we’ll see more often than not. Five goals is a reasonable expectation, as far as the number of goals per game that we can expect to see in this series.