The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead when they hit the ice on Friday for Game 4 of their Stanley Cup Final clash against the Dallas Stars as -150 favourites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Fired up by the brief return of Steven Stamkos, the Lightning offence wasted no time taking an early lead in a 5-2 victory in Game 3. With the win, Tampa Bay seized its first lead of the series, leading Dallas two games to one going into Friday night's matchup at Rogers Place.
Hobbled by injuries that have kept him out of the lineup since February, Stamkos made his presence felt quickly. The Lightning captain potted a first-period goal that gave the club an early 2-0 lead, but was used sparingly the rest of the way, seeing just 2:47 of total ice time. But even with Stamkos stapled to the bench, the Lightning offence enjoyed a long-awaited resurgence, scoring three times on 21 shots in the second period before patiently playing a slow-moving third period that provided the Stars with little opportunity to rebound.
Tampa Bay's five goals marked the first time the club has topped four goals since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. The breakthrough provided a payout to those taking the OVER at betting sites for the first time in the Lightning's past six contests.
The Lightning have now scored at least five times on four occasions during this year's playoffs, but have struggled to maintain momentum in subsequent outings, scoring just seven total goals in the games immediately following their three previous high-scoring contests. However, Tampa Bay has a history of maintaining playoff momentum, claiming victory in each of its past four Game 4 appearances while sporting a 2-1 series lead.
Now just two wins away from their first Stanley Cup victory since 2004, the Lightning have vaulted to -500 favourites on the NHL playoff series prices, well ahead of Dallas, which has slipped to +350. However, the Stars cannot be counted out as they prepare for Game 4 as +130 underdogs.
Wednesday night marked just the second time in these playoffs that the Stars had lost two games in a row. Dallas responded with a mammoth defensive effort to win six of seven following their last two-game slide. But after scoring just 12 total goals at even strength in their past eight games, the Stars must find a way to spark their offence if they are to even up the series on Friday night.