The NHL season could finally come to a close on Saturday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning have a chance to eliminate the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. These two teams have had great seasons and will look to earn a huge win in Game 5 of this series. The puck will drop in this one at around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
The Stars finished out the regular season with a record of 37-24-8, which helped them earn the third seed in the Western Conference. Dallas eliminated the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Now Dallas has their backs against the wall as they try to come back against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay posted a record of 43-21-6 throughout the regular season to earn the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning knocked off the Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders to reach the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay now finds themselves one game away from winning the Stanley Cup, which they will hope to accomplish on Saturday night.
These two teams are coming off a tiring Game 4, which went to overtime on Friday night. Both teams will look to gain some momentum early in this one as they try and bounce back after a long night. The Stars took the heartbreaking defeat in Game 4, so they will need to come out with a answer in this one to get some momentum back in the wheels.
Game 1 of this series was back on September 19. Yanni Gourde was the only player who scored for the Lightning in a tough loss. Joel Hanley, Jamie Oleksiak, Joel Kiviranta and Jason Dickenson all scored for the Stars. Anton Khudobin stopped 35 of 36 shots as the Stars were able to win 4-1 to take a 1-0 series lead over Tampa Bay.
The second game of the series was back on September 21. Brayden Point, Ondrej Palat and Kevin Shattenkirk all scored for the Lightning as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov both earned two assists as the Stars gave a valiant effort to come back. The Lightning ended up with a 3-2 win to tie up the series.
The third game of the Stanley Cup Finals was on September 23. Jason Dickinson and Miro Heiskanen scored for the Stars as Dallas got dominated. Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists. Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point all scored as the Lightning took over. Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 22 of 24 shots as Tampa Bay won 5-2 to take the 2-1 series lead.
Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals was on September 25. Joe Pavelski scored twice, including a tying goal to send it to overtime. Brayden Points scored twice, while Kevin Shattenkirk scored the game winner in overtime. Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev all had two points as the Lightning pushed the Stars to the brink of elimination with a 5-4 win in OT.
The Stars have put up a solid special team unit throughout the playoffs. Dallas’ power play has been able to capitalize on 23.8 percent of their power play opportunities. The Stars penalty kill has stopped opposing team’s 79.8 percent of the time. Dallas has gone 1-14 on the power play throughout this series and need to find a way to get back on the board.
Tampa Bay’s special teams struggled a bit in the postseason but have picked up the play since the Stanley Cup started. The Lightning have scored on 22.5 percent of their power play chances. Tampa Bay has also killed off 85.2 percent of the penalties against them. The Lightning have gone 6-15 on the power play in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Dallas had the better special teams’ unit for most of the playoffs, but the Lightning have dominated on special teams in this series. Tampa Bay went 3-4 on the power play in Game 4, while the Stars went 0-3 on the man advantage. Dallas needs to switch up their special team’s unit coming into Game 5 if they want to avoid elimination.
Anton Khudobin has had a strong postseason run so far and I expect him to get the nod in the crease for the Stars in Game 5. Khudobin has put up a record of 13-8 throughout the playoffs. He has earned a save percentage of .918 and a 2.72 GAA throughout those games. Khudobin will look to bounce back with a big performance in Game 5.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start in the net for the Lightning on Saturday night. Vasilevskiy has 16-6 throughout the postseason. He has put up a .928 save percentage and a GAA of 1.89 throughout those games. Vasilevskiy has stood tall throughout this series and Tampa Bay needs one more strong performance from him to clinch the Stanley Cup.
These two goalies have played well throughout this series, but it is now do or die. Khudobin finds his Stars with their backs against the walls, while Vasilevskiy is eying that final win for the Stanley Cup. I expect both goalies to come out strong in Game 5 as they try and help their teams out in a critical game. Khudobin will need to try and give his team some momentum after losing in overtime the night before.
Tampa Bay is one game away from lifting hockey’s greatest trophy, but I believe that the Stars will fend them off for at least one more night. Dallas is coming off a heartbreaking defeat, but they have not gotten here for no reason. I expect the Stars to come out hot with their backs against the wall in Game 5. If Dallas can fix some things on special teams, it could help them earn the win on Saturday night.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -155 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 60.8 percent of the time. These are the two best teams from their respective conference, which makes me think the line should be more even. Tampa Bay has earned the edge with a 3-1 series lead, but I like the Stars chances to bounce back and force a Game 6.