The Stanley Cup Finals will continue on Friday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars will meet up in Game 4 of the series. These two teams have met in a great series so far and I expect another good one on September 25. Look for both teams to come out strong as they look to take a step closer the greatest trophy in sports. This game will drop the puck at around 8:00 PM Eastern time on NBC.
Tampa Bay finished out the regular season with a record of 43-21-6. The Lightning earned the second seed in the Eastern Conference and faced the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round. Tampa Bay knocked off the Blue Jackets and the Boston Bruins both in five games before facing the New York Islanders. The Lightning moved on in six games and are now two away from lifting the Cup.
The Stars earned a record of 37-24-8 throughout the regular season, which helped them earn the third seed in the Western Conference. Dallas faced the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. Now the Stars are down a game and will look to tie up the series with a win on Friday night.
These two teams have had phenomenal runs throughout the playoffs so far. Tampa Bay finds themselves up in this series but look for the Stars to come out hot in this one. Dallas has not been down in a series since Game 4 of the first round but look for them to bounce back in this one. I expect the Stars to be resilient in Game 4 as they try to tie the series back up.
Game 1 of this series was back on September 19. Yanni Gourde scored the lone goal for the Lightning as Tampa Bay came up short. Joel Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak, Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickenson all stepped up and scored for the Stars in this one. Anton Khudobin stopped 35 of 36 shots as the Stars took a 1-0 series lead with a 4-1 win.
The second game of the series was on September 21. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk all scored in the first period as Tampa Bay took a 3-0 lead. Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov both had two assists. John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov both tallied two assists as the Stars tried to battle back into this one. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 27 of 29 shots as the Lightning tied up the series with a 3-2 win.
Game 3 of the series was on September 23. Jason Dickenson and Miro Heiskanen both scored for the Stars, but it was not enough. Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists, while Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point all scored a goal and added an assist. Steven Stamkos scored as well in his debut back. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 of 24 shots as the Lightning won 5-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Stars jumped out to a solid series lead after Game 1, but the Lightning have done a great job responding with back to back wins. Now these two teams will meet on Friday night and Saturday night, which should lead to a bit of an interesting strategy. I expect both teams to come out strong on Friday as they need to focus on that game first.
The Lighting’s special teams’ unit has been solid throughout the playoffs. Tampa Bay has capitalized on around 19.4 percent of their power play opportunities. The Lightning’s penalty kill has been strong as well, killing off 84.6 percent of the penalties against them. Tampa Bay has gone 3-11 on the power play throughout this series.
Dallas has had a strong special teams’ unit throughout the postseason as well. The Stars have scored on 24.7 percent of their power play chances on this playoff run. The Stars have also earned an 82.1 percent kill rate throughout the playoffs. Dallas has gone 1-11 on the power play in this series, which they will look to improve upon.
The Lighting have not had the better special team unit throughout the playoffs, but they have been off to a better start in the Stanley Cup Finals. I expect Dallas to make some adjustments coming into this one after going 0-4 on the power play in Game 3. If the Stars can break through on the power play, it could help them tie up this series.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will earn the nod in the crease throughout Game 4 of this series for the Lightning. Vasilevskiy has earned a record of 16-6 throughout the playoffs so far. He has posted a save percentage of .928 and a 1.89 GAA in those games. Vasilevskiy has stepped up all postseason long and Tampa Bay needs him to help close out the Stars.
Anton Khudobin will get the start in net for the Stars on Friday night. Khudobin has been one of the best stories to follow throughout this playoff run as he has stepped up for the injured Ben Bishop. Khudobin has put up a record of 13-8 throughout the playoffs. He has earned a .918 save percentage and a GAA of 2.72 throughout those games.
Khudobin is coming off a bit of a rough start in Game 3 and will need to bounce back in Game 4. Khudobin looked good in Game’s 1 and 2 and the Stars will need him to step up on Friday. Dallas has scored four goals on Vasilevskiy over the last two games, after scoring four in Game 1. The Stars will look to solve Vasilevskiy first to take some of the pressure off of Khudobin.
Tampa Bay is coming off huge back to back wins in this series, but I believe it will be the Stars who earn a big win in Game 4 of this series. Dallas has looked good throughout but have had some shaky moments through the last two games. If the Stars can play a more complete game, including on the power play, I expect them to bounce back with a win on Friday night.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -153 against the money line in Game 4. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 60.5 percent of the time. I believe that this line is too big for this series. These are the two best teams in each Conference, which should lead to a closer line. I like Dallas a lot in Game 4 and as big underdogs, they have a lot of value.