Tampa Bay Lightning will meet the Florida Panthers to open Sunday’s action of the NHL 2021-22 playoffs. The hosts want to pick up where they left off and increase their advantage in this tie. The away side was unsuccessful on its ice in the first two matches, and they will search for improvement.
Tampa Bay moved the series to the home ice with a very good 2-0 advantage, and they will have the chance to increase it in front of its fans. The home side should continue in the same fashion to get closer to the conference finals. On the other hand, Florida failed to celebrate in the first two encounters, and a tough challenge is ahead of them. Nevertheless, the visitors won’t surrender in this tie.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Can they increase their advantage?
After a difficult series in the first round, the Lightning have enjoyed a great start in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Despite starting this tie on the road, they returned to Amalie Arena with a 2-0 advantage from Sunrise. However, the two-time defending champions shouldn’t get complacent, as there is still a lot of work to do in this series. Tampa Bay should keep its defense tight after conceding just three goals on the previous three occasions in the playoffs. Despite having eight shots less and winning six faceoffs less than their rivals, the Lightning celebrated a 2-1 win in Game 2.
Nikita Kucherov has led the Lightning’s offense in the post-season with eleven points, including a team-high eight assists. Victor Hedman needs one more point to reach the 10-mark, while Ross Colton tops the team’s scoring charts with five goals and seven pts. Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat have contributed to Tampa Bay’s offense with six points each, while two more skaters managed to chip in with five points apiece. On the goal, Andrei Vasilevskiy has been irreplaceable in the post-season, making nine apps and having a .916 save percentage.
Expected Line-Up: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Jan Rutta, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos
with best odds
Florida Panthers – Will they bounce back on the road?
Although they have been very good on the home ice this season, the Panthers move to Tampa Bay being 2-0 down in this series. After losing the first match of the series 4-1, they were more competitive in Game 2. Florida trailed 1-0 after the first period but managed to equalize before entering the final third. Nevertheless, when everybody saw the game going to overtime, the Lightning scored four seconds from time. The Cats were more dominant in the offense on Thursday evening, but they were not clinical enough in front of the opponent’s net.
Carter Verhaeghe has been the most productive player for the Cats with 12 points in total, topping the goals and assists charts with six each. Claude Giroux has chipped in with eight pts, while Aleksander Barkov has six. Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau have combined for nine pts, while five other skaters have contributed to Florida’s offense with three points each. On the other hand, Sergei Bobrovsky was between the pipes in every playoff game, allowing 2.86 goals per contest.
Expected Line-Up: Sergei Bobrovsky, Aaron Ekblad, Radko Gudas, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe
Expert Pick #1 – Tampa Bay Lightning to win @-105
The defending champions are full of confidence, and they have a lot of experience in the playoff games. They shouldn’t waste their 2-0 lead in this series, and I see them beating the Cats for the third time in a row. I’ll go with the home team as my first pick for this matchup.
Expert Pick #2 – Under 6.5 @-120
The Bolts have tightened their defense, and it has been a recipe for positive results in this series. I believe they can continue in the same fashion, although these two teams have been very productive this season. That’s why I’m backing the Under as my second bet.
Expert Pick #3 – Lightning to win & Both to Score @+160
I’ll go with a riskier pick as my second alternative again since the odds are pretty attractive. I don’t think either team will keep its net intact, and combined with Tampa Bay’s victory, we can count on excellent profits.