Once again, the season hangs in the balance for the Tampa bay Lightning.
The Lightning faces elimination for the second time this post-season and the first time since the Toronto series.
The Lightning is 2-0 in elimination games so far this season.
The Lightning trailed the Leafs 3-2 in the series before a 4-3 OT win in game six at Amalie Arena. In-game seven, Nick Paul scored the two lone goals for the Lightning in a 2-1 win At Scotiabank Arena that sent the Leafs on summer vacation.
Lose tonight, and the season is over. The dream of a third straight Stanley Cup championship will end.
The odds are against the Lightning. Only one team has come back to win in the Stanley Cup Finals after trailing 3-1. The Toronto Maple Leafs came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 and capture the Stanley Cup in 1942.
In NHL history, there have been 30 series where a team has trailed in a series 3-1 and then won three straight to win that series.
Most recently, the New York Rangers overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 3-1 deficit in 2011 when they trailed the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 and won three in a row to win the series 4-3. However, the Lightning had to win two games on the road to win that series.
Although the odds in this series seem insurmountable, it is not impossible.
So You’re saying there’s a chance?
The Lightning will have to win this game without one of their better offensive players in Braydon Point. Point tried to give it a go in games one and two but has been sidelined since and has probably played his last hockey this season.
Defensemen Eric Cernak could also miss the game tonight with a lower-body injury. Cernak blocked a Nathon MacKinnon shot in the second period and left the ice without putting any pressure on the leg.
Although Cernak returned to the bench, he did not play the rest of the game.
I am optimistic about getting a win tonight in game five because of the guy in goal for the Lightning, Andrei Vasilevskiy.
No other goalie on planet earth is better in elimination games than Andrei Vasileviskiy.
Vasi has not lost an elimination since that infamous series against Columbus in 2019.
In the last nine series with a chance to win it, Andrei Vasilevskiy is 9- 0 in the clinching games, saving 240 shots out of 243 with a .987 save percentage.
Vasilevskiy seems to be his best in high-pressure situations.
Vasy has never been in this situation, though, with the high stakes.
I expect an incredible performance from this team tonight. You can bet that Vasy will do his part. But I expect the rest of the team to step up, play their butt off, and leave it all on the ice tonight.
See you in Tampa on Sunday Night for game six.