When I first started covering the Stanley Cup Playoffs many years ago in Chicago, I learned about the importance of winning Game 3 in a series tied 1-1.
Even though it's still relatively early in the series, it's a pretty pivotal game. Especially when one team completely sets the tone from the start. That's exactly what the Tampa Bay Lightning did last night with a powerful performance en route to a dominant 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars.
Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos lit the lamp in the first seven minutes – first period overs are now 3-for-3 in the Stanley Cup Final – and the Lightning added three more goals for good measure in the second period.
The odds to win the title were fairly close heading into Game 3. PointsBet Sportsbook was dealing Tampa Bay -180 and Dallas +155 to hoist Lord Stanley. Let's just say that things changed a little bit after Wednesday night.
One American sportsbook was quick to pop up the Lightning as a -500 favorite to finish the job. Wowza. -180 to -500 after one game is a serious shift. Then another book posted Tampa Bay -550. For those wondering, a -500 favorite implies around 83 percent probability. That seems a little high, but oddsmakers know what they're doing and they also have to shade their lines based on what bettors just watched.
WFAA's Mike Leslie posted an impressive stat last night after Tampa's convincing win. He reported that Game 3 winners of a tied Stanley Cup Final win it all 76 percent of the time (22-for-29).
Okay, so maybe -500 and -550 is too high. 76 percent technically translates to a -317 favorite, but I prefer not to step in front of that Tampa freight train. One hockey analyst texted me after Stamkos sniped a rocket past Anton Khudobin to go up 2-0. It was a jubilant return for the Lightning captain, who hadn't played a hockey game in 211 days.
"Uh oh," the analyst said. Straight to the point. Nothing more, nothing less.
That's probably how the Stars feel too after getting socked in the mouth. There's still sand in the hourglass, but it will be tough for Dallas to recover from that beatdown. Game 4 almost feels like a must-win spot.
If you feel like Khudobin and the boys can rally back and win it all, sportsbooks will give you a very juicy price of around +400 or +450.
Are you interested?
PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner, and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.