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Tampa Bay looks to book ticket to Stanley Cup Final as Stars sit idle

By Andy MacNeil  ( 

Despite allowing the first goal on Sunday, a 12-second stretch where the Tampa Bay Lightning scored two goals swung the game in their favor. Now, the Lightning take a commanding 3-1 series lead into Tuesday's Game 5 and they’ll look to make good on what will be their first of three opportunities to book a ticket to Stanley Cup Final.

Brayden Point returned after sitting out one game with an injury and his presence was immediately both on a surface level, and under the hood. Point scored one goal and assisted on another, however, he and his line mates (Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat) owned 75 percent of the expected goals at 5-on-5 according to Natural Stat Trick. 

Overall, the Lightning owned about 60 percent of the goals at even strength and some of that can be attributed to the fact that the Islanders were with out the best fourth line centre in the league, Casey Cizikas, for the second game in a row, and will be without his tenacity for the remainder of the playoffs. Role players don’t typically move the needle all that much, but Cizikas isn’t just any role player and the Isles chances of winning take a hit without him.

With that being said, the odds (-175) imply that the Lightning will win the game about 63 percent of the time and that’s about where we’d expect them to be based on all of the information that is currently available to the betting public. As far as the updated series price, there’s about a 95 percent chance that the Lightning will win the series as things stand right now. In other words, the Islanders adjusted series price should represent a 5 percent chance of winning (19/1).

The winner of this series will meet the Dallas Stars, who came from behind and defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in overtime on Monday as 155 underdogs to win the Western Conference Final. The Stars will be hoping that the Eastern Conference Final stretches to seven games as the backbone of their team, Anton Khudobin, could use a rest. The 34-year old goaltender has started 19 games in 40 days, which is the heaviest workload of his career. 

Stay tuned for a Stanley Cup Final preview in the coming days.

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