The Tampa Bay Lightning can win the Stanley Cup for the second time in less than 10 months when they visit the Montreal Canadiens in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final at Bell Centre on Monday.
The Lightning won the Cup for the second time in their history Sept. 28, 2020, defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6 of the Cup Final.
“It’s been a ride,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.
Tampa Bay can become the first team to sweep its opponent in the Cup Final since the Detroit Red Wings did it against the Washington Capitals in 1998.
The Lightning are the first team to have a 3-0 lead in the Cup Final since the Los Angeles Kings against the New York Rangers in 2014. The Kings lost Game 4 but won Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and take it, but it’s going to be hard,” Lightning defenseman David Savard said. “We know that team on the other side doesn’t want to go down without a fight.”
The Canadiens will try to become the fifth NHL team to come back from trailing 3-0 in a best-of-7 series and second to do it in the Cup Final (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs). They are the 200th team to trail 3-0, including the 28th in the Cup Final.
Tampa Bay has outscored Montreal 14-5 and hasn’t trailed in the series. The Lightning had one-goal leads after the first period in Games 1 and 3.
“There is a lot of energy,” Canadiens forward Paul Byron said. “Everyone on the team knows we can play better. It’s a big challenge for the team, but everyone has to play to their potential tonight. I like the energy. I like the atmosphere on the team. We’ll see tonight.”
Here are 3 keys for Game 4:
1. Price must be right
Canadiens goalie Carey Price has been badly outplayed in the series by his Lightning counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Price has a 4.39 goals-against average and an .835 save percentage, allowing 13 goals on 79 shots. Vasilevskiy has a 1.67 GAA and a .948 save percentage, allowing five goals on 97 shots.
It’s unlikely that the Canadiens will extend the series if Vasilevskiy continues to outshine Price.
2. Lightning need to block out noise
The Lightning don’t believe they’re going to get caught up in the opportunity to win the Stanley Cup because of their experience from last year.
They lost Game 5 of the Cup Final against the Stars last season when they had a chance to win the series. They won it in Game 6.
“I remember vividly last year having an opportunity to knock out Dallas and I look back now my thoughts were all going in the wrong direction,” Cooper said. “You’re thinking about raising the Stanley Cup, what’s it going to be like after, lifelong dreams, who is going to get to drink out of it. That’s called channeling your energy in the wrong direction.
“When we lost that game, I learned a lesson and it has to come back to your beliefs and it’s the process over the outcome. You can’t think of the outcome. You just have to believe in your process and whatever happens that’ll all take care of itself. Going into these games now, knowing how much is at stake, I’ve put it aside and I want to channel my energy into having our team play the best possible game.”
3. Canadiens make changes
The Canadiens will have a new look with several line and lineup changes in an attempt to shake things up and find some new energy, particularly at the start of the game.
The biggest change up front is inserting forward Jake Evans at center on the third line and scratching Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who has played in 19 straight games since he was a healthy scratch in Game 1 against the Maple Leafs in the first round.
Evans, scratched the past two games after playing on the fourth line in Game 1, will center the third line with Artturi Lehkonen and Byron. Canadiens coach Dominque Ducharme said the line brings speed and energy, as it did in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers.
“They can play against top lines,” Ducharme said. “They showed it against [Connor] McDavid in two games.”
Brett Kulak and Alexander Romanov will enter the lineup on the third defense pair, replacing Jon Merrill and Erik Gustafsson.
“We wanted to bring a little bit more skating on our back end with those two guys,” Ducharme said. “We feel it’s important against them tonight and we’ll see.”
Lightning projected lineup
Ondrej Palat — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson — Anthony Cirelli — Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow — Yanni Gourde — Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon — Ross Colton — Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman — Jan Rutta
Ryan McDonagh — Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev — David Savard
Injured: Alex Killorn (undisclosed)
Canadiens projected lineup
Tyler Toffoli — Phillip Danault — Brendan Gallagher
Cole Caufield — Nick Suzuki — Josh Anderson
Paul Byron — Jake Evans — Artturi Lehkonen
Joel Armia — Eric Staal — Corey Perry
Ben Chiarot — Shea Weber
Joel Edmundson — Jeff Petry
Alexander Romanov — Brett Kulak
Scratched: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Cale Fleury, Jon Merrill, Lukas Vejdemo, Laurent Dauphin, Jesse Ylonen, Alex Belzile, Xavier Ouellet, Otto Leskinen, Michael Frolik, Erik Gustafsson, Tomas Tatar, Cayden Primeau, Charlie Lindgren, Michael McNiven
Killorn will be a game-time decision, Cooper said. He has missed the past two games after sustaining an undisclosed injury in Game 1 when blocking a shot. … Toffoli will move up to the top line and replace Lehkonen, who will drop to the third line. Anderson will move up from the third line to the second line and Caufield will move from right wing to left wing. The Canadiens fourth line will remain the same from Game 3.