Stanley Cup Final Game 4 betting preview: Gut-check time for Dallas
Dave Sandford / National Hockey League / Getty

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We dropped our first pick in awhile in Game 3, falling to 9-3-1 since the start of Round 3. It sure would have been nice to know about Steven Stamkos' return at the time of writing.

Let's bounce back in Game 4.

Tampa Bay Lightning (-160) at Dallas Stars (+140)

While the return of Stamkos had a galvanizing effect on the Lightning offense - he scored the game's second goal in a 5-2 win - it was also clouded by yet another injury. The forward managed just five shifts on 2:47 of ice time before leaving the game at the end of the first period and not returning.

That's put a cloud of doubt over his Game 4 status, which makes it tough to appropriately pick a side here. Obviously if Stamkos is deemed healthy enough to participate tonight we have to assume he's going to be a full go - this isn't the time to trot out decoys on the ice.

What we do know though is that if the Stars want to get into a run-and-gun affair with the Bolts, they're going to lose the Stanley Cup Final. That's not a slight to Dallas' forward group, but rather a testament to just how deep this Tampa team is. The Stars will need to focus on tightening things up again in Game 4 and playing to their strong suit.

It was also an off night for Anton Khudobin, who allowed 2.83 goals above expected. With a bounce back from the determined Stars netminder, and a shift in approach from the team in front of him, we can expect a much tighter contest on Friday night.

Pick: Under 5 (+115)

(Odds source: theScore Bet)

Alex Moretto is a sports betting writer for theScore. A journalism graduate from Guelph-Humber University, he has worked in sports media for over a decade. He will bet on anything from the Super Bowl to amateur soccer, is too impatient for futures, and will never trust a kicker. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Stanley Cup Final Game 4 betting preview: Gut-check time for Dallas
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