The Tampa Bay Lightning (43-21-6) and the Dallas Stars (37-24-8) are set to begin their battle for the ultimate prize in the NHL. Game one of the Stanley Cup Finals is scheduled to kick off on Saturday. At the end of the 2020 regular season, the Lightning were second in the Atlantic Division and had 92 points. They’ve only lost five of their nineteen bubble games. The Stars finished the regular season third in the Central Division with 82 points. They’ve dropped eight of their twenty-one postseason games. These two teams met twice during the regular season. Both games went to overtime, and both were won by the Stars.
Lightning Advances In Overtime Once AgainOut of the three series that Tampa has played in the bubble, all have ended up being decided in overtime. The Blue Jackets, the Bruins, and now the Islanders have all fallen to the Lightning’s overtime prowess. They’ve gone into OT seven times in the postseason, and have only lost once. Though this likely won’t shake the Stars much, as they’ve undefeated in their five overtime appearances. The team’s leading goalscorer, Brayden Point, was available for game six against the Islanders after missing two games with an undisclosed injury. Point currently has nine goals and twenty-five points in the postseason, though the extent of his game six contributions were four shots on goal and an impressive 25 minutes of ice time.
Once again, for the team with one of the best goals per game in the playoffs (3.11), their winning contest against the Islanders was a very low scoring game for both teams. The final score was 2-1, and Tampa’s second goal would take an extra 13 minutes of play. The Lightning’s lack of goals certainly wasn’t for lack of trying, though. They had 48 shots on goal by the end of the game. The only regulation goal came early in the contest when Victor Hedman got his ninth in the bubble to tie things up with the Islanders. The scoreboard would remain stagnant for nearly 70 minutes of play until Anthony Cirelli sent a puck home and advanced his team to the finals. In goal for Tampa was Andrei Vasilevskiy. He turned away 26 of 27 shots faced for a save percentage of .963.
Stars Well Rested Entering Cup FinalsFor the first time since the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals, the Dallas Stars are making an appearance in the Cup finals. And, they’re going into the opening game with five days of rest behind them. They haven’t played since Monday night, where they beat the top-seeded Golden Knights to advance. They also have the advantage of not having to travel. While Edmonton is far from home ice for the Dallas team, after spending well over a month there, it might start to feel that way. They’ve likely gotten used to the quirks of Edmonton’s ice and rink, giving them a slight advantage over the Lightning.
Let’s do this four more times 😏 pic.twitter.com/iSuLjJ5uy2— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) September 18, 2020
In the final game of their Conference Finals, things didn’t look good for the majority of the contest. Dallas trailed until the closing minutes of the game, as they were scored on in the first period, then again just seconds into the third period. They also trailed in shots on goal, having 26 to Vegas’ 36. Just shy of 10 minutes into the third period, Dallas would get their first goal. It came from the captain, Jamie Benn, and was his eighth of the postseason. With the lead cut in half, and on the man advantage, the Stars were able to find the back of the net again. The tying goal was scored by Joel Kiviranta. That wouldn’t be the Stars’ only powerplay goal, though. Just 3:36 into overtime, the Stars struck again. Denis Gurianov had his ninth goal in the bubble to send his team on to the next round. In net for the Stars was Anton Khudobin, who had 34 saves on 36 shots for a .944 save percentage.
- The Stars are 23-5-4 overall when scoring first.
- The Stars are 18-10-3 overall when outshooting their opponent.
- The Lightning are 10-9 overall in one-goal games.
- The Lightning are 7-8-2 overall when trailing after the first period.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
As mentioned, the Dallas Stars have a pretty large advantage when it comes to the first game of this series. The Lightning played just two nights ago, while the Stars have been resting for five days. They’ll go into game one with fresh legs and clear heads, and they’ve had plenty of time to study their opponent. Beyond that, the Stars are coming off a series with the Knights, who have a very similar play style to the Lightning. Both are hard-hitting, high offense teams that pepper their opponent with shots. However, on the other side of things, the Stars are very different from the Islanders. The Stars are the better rested, more prepared team in this matchup, and it will show in the final score of the game.
Prediction: Dallas Stars +130
Full-Game Total Pick
The Stars are known for their offense during the regular season, and with only a few exceptions, that has carried over to the postseason. Over the entirety of their series with the Knights, they only allowed eight goals. The Lightning, while they are a capable offensive team, are also strong on their defense. Their goaltending can’t be overlooked either, as they have the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy minding their net. On the other end of the ice is Anton Khudobin, who has been outstanding in his surprise starting role in the postseason. With two lights out goaltenders, and a solid d-corps protecting them, this game is going to be a low scoring affair.
Prediction: Under 5