The Central Division winners are in trouble of going home as they host the defending Stanley Cup champs. Heck as a matter of fact regular season records haven't mattered much in these playoffs. Montreal had the worst point total out of any team heading into the playoffs and now they are the first to qualify for the semis. Both the Islanders and Bruins beat teams with better records in the East against the Capitals and Penguins.
The only thing that really seems to make sense is that the top two teams in the league in terms of points, Vegas and Colorado, are evened up at two games apiece in their series. Doesn't really matter that the Lightning finished third in their division as they are on the verge of closing this series out and on their way to face the red-hot Canadiens. Can the Hurricanes make a flury and turn this series around?
What TV Channel is Game 5: Lightning-Hurricanes on?
If it wasn't for an OT win by Carolina in Game 3, the Lightning would already swept and sitting pretty with Montreal. Instead the Hurricanes are still hanging on but only by a thread. It hasn't been all bad news for them though as the first three games were decided by a goal. The last game was a heartbreaker though. They jumped out to a decisive lead in Game 4 leading Tampa Bay 4-2 late in the second period. Then the hurricane died down and from that point on the only thing in the forecast was lightning.
Carolina ended up losing by the same margin and if they are to stay alive in the series, they'll have to keep their foot on the gas. They were amazing in that second period when they scored all of their four goals. But they also gave up four goals in that period as well. They played very well at home this season including winning three of five in Raleigh this playoffs.
The leadership and goal-scoring ability of Sebastian Aho won't be enough though in this one if they are going to come back from a 3-1 playoff deficit for the first time in their history. They honestly don't even need a lot of goals to win as this series has proved. The most important quality they'll need is to keep their composure when their backs are against the wall. Something that this less than battle tested team seems to be lacking when playing superior opponents. It will help though that they are likely to get back forward Nino Niederreiter for Game 5.
They'll need all of that because Tampa is just too good. Specifically at goalie. Andrei Vasilevskiy had a rare off night (really only a bad period) and it still didn't matter. Nikita Kucherov turned the momentum of the entire Game 4 on a dime and scored two goals and had an assist. Steven Stamkos put up the exact same numbers. There's just too much fire power here to bet against them. Forget this series, they're the favorite to return back to the Finals whomever they face next round.