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Lightning Set to Strike In Game 1 Of Stanley Cup Final

Anthony Cirelli and the Lightning take on the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.

They normally play in the same division during the regular season – but in a topsy-turvy season, it's only fitting that two Atlantic Division foes will square off for the top prize in hockey. The Tampa Bay Lightning (48-20-6 SU, 33-36-5 O/U) are considerable favorites to repeat as Stanley Cup champions as they host the Montreal Canadiens (36-25-12 SU, 28-38-7 O/U) in Game 1 of the final Monday.

Montreal Canadiens vs Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Date/Time: June 28, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Amalie Arena
  • TV Coverage: NBCSN
  • Opening Odds: Lightning -210 | O/U 5 (Line History)
  • Canadiens vs Lightning Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Tampa Bay came in as a whopping -210 favorite for the Stanley Cup final opener, but has since settled into the -200 area in most spots (with the Canadiens ranging between +170 and +180). The total is set at 5, with the OVER at -115 and the UNDER at -105.

Montreal News & Notes

The Canadiens opened the season as +6000 underdogs to win their first Stanley Cup championship since 1993 – but after rallying from 3-1 down to stun Toronto in Round 1, sweeping Winnipeg in Round 2 and knocking off Vegas in the semis, Montreal comes in at a tidy +200. And as usual, that makes them big-time series underdogs, with the defending-champion Lightning listed at -250.

The key to a fourth straight upset win for Montreal will be what happens in goal, where Carey Price has been lights out for the bleu, blanc et rouge. Price boasts a 2.02 goals-against average and .934 save percentage through his first 17 postseason games, and has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of his previous eight games (with Montreal going a red hot 6-1 SU in those contests).

Tampa Bay News & Notes

The Lightning might have had to work a lot harder to reach the final – pulling out a 1-0 win in Game 7 against the plucky New York Islanders – but they're the clear choice among oddsmakers. And that's how it has been for most of the season, with Tampa Bay's odds of becoming the first repeat Stanley Cup champion since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016-17 never dipping below +900.

The Lightning offense is going to make things challenging for the Canadiens' back end – and there are two players in particular that Montreal will need to be mindful of in this series. Nikita Kucherov – who missed the entire regular season – continues an improbable march toward Conn Smythe contention with a playoffs-leading 27 points, while Brayden Point is the top goal-scorer with 14.

Betting Pick: Lightning (-210)

Montreal has made great teams look ordinary in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the Lightning are the defending champions for a reason – and their deep, talented roster is the best the Canadiens have faced to date. We like the home side in Game 1.

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Shark Bites
  • Montreal is 11-2 SU in its previous 11 games.
  • Tampa Bay has won six straight head-to-head meetings at home.
  • The UNDER is 5-1 in the last six encounters.