The Tampa Bay Lightning are travelling back to their home barn after taking a sturdy 2-0 series lead. The Florida Panthers find themselves in the same situation they were in last postseason when they dropped the series’ first two games against the Lightning. They’ll need to figure out ways to produce some offense if they hope to even things up. This is where you’ll find everything, including team win odds, the over/under, and point spreads.
Florida Panthers (-115) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (-105)
FLA: 4-4, 3.00 GF/GP, 3.29 GA/GP
TBL: 6-3, 2.75 GF/GP, 3.13 GA/GP
Head coach Jon Cooper is getting the performance we expected from the start of the postseason. Ross Colton scored with less than four seconds remaining in Game 4, deflating the Panthers crowd. It was reminiscent of Tyler Johnson’s game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens in 2015. The goal sends the series back to Tampa Bay, with the home team heading into Game 3 with a 2-0 series lead. The Lightning eliminated the Panthers in six games last postseason after going up two games to none.
It was heartbreak in Florida, especially for Sergei Bobrovsky, who was near perfect in Game 2. Overall, the team limited the Lightning to under 30 shots and suffocated them in the neutral zone. It was a matter of minor mistakes that Tampa Bay knows too well to take advantage of. Unfortunately for Florida, Andrei Vasilevskiy has found his form and has shed the first-round woes suffered against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Florida – Win By More Than 1 Goal (-1.5, +200)
To win in Game 3, the Panthers will need to score more than once if they want to take down the Lightning. Two goals in two games aren’t going to cut it, no matter how good their defense has been. During the regular season, Florida was the eighth-best road team league-wide, with a 26-11-4 record. Their offense shines in road games, as they finished with a 3.56 goals-per-game ratio, and they’ll need a lot of that against Vasilevskiy.
The Lightning aren’t going to give the Panthers any room to breathe, as they aren’t too shabby on home ice. As the eighth-best team in front of their home crowd with a 27-8-6 record, they also gave up the fourth-least amount of goals with a 2.49 GAA. Something has to give as the two teams clash, but the Panthers will be extra motivated to avoid surrendering a 3-0 series lead.
Total Goals Scored – Under 6.5 (-120)
Florida will need their top-line players to start showing up. To date, Anthony Duclair is the only top-six forward to register a goal, and he was a healthy scratch in Game 6 against the Washington Capitals. It’s almost inexcusable to see that Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Claude Giroux have combined for two assists in two games. Florida has banked on so much this postseason, and a lot is riding on how far they go. Sacrificing Frank Vatrano and trading away Owen Tippett and a surplus of draft picks to bolster their lineup with rentals means it’s do-or-die for Florida.
The biggest issue for them is how good Tampa Bay becomes the deeper they go in the playoffs. No matter the names, the Lightning’s third line is always problematic for any team to handle, and then there’s the top six that include Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. So far, both goaltenders have kept the scores respectable, but for how much longer is anyone’s guess. If Vasilevskiy continues to shine and every player on the bench risks their bodies to block shots, expect games to be on the lower end for scoring.
Odds via Yahoo and BetMGM.
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