The semifinal series between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning shifts to New York with the series tied at a game apiece. Game 3 gets underway at 8 p.m. ET at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the Islanders have a 4-2 record in these playoffs. The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning are 5-1 on the road and have only allowed two goals over their past three games away from Tampa Bay.
Below you’ll see a breakdown of the game, including a pick and a couple of shot props to consider. If you’re looking for more bets this season, check out the FTN Bet Tracker at FTNBets.com. Make sure you check out FTN’s free Parlay Calculator to get the best possible odds.
Tampa Bay Lightning -137 (DraftKings) @ New York Islanders +120 (FanDuel) - 5.5
The Tampa Bay Lightning won 4-2 in Game 2 to even up their series with the New York Islanders and were led by Brayden Point, who picked up his league-leading 10th goal of the playoffs. Point has 15 goals in his last 18 playoff games and 18 over his last 23 dating back to last season in the bubble. Point has been a force for TB over the last two playoffs, as he has 24 goals and 47 points in his last 36 games.
Nikita Kucherov has been just as good, as he leads the playoffs with 22 points in 13 games after missing the entire regular season. He had three assists in Game 2 and has 56 points over his last 38 playoff games, dating back to last season.
Speaking of last season, the Lightning and the Islanders met in last year’s semifinals, and it was TB who came out on top in six games. It may have been over sooner, but Point missed both games Tampa Bay lost, and the team was also without captain Steven Stamkos for the series. Both look healthy and strong in this year’s playoffs.
The rematch has been pretty even this time around, especially at 5v5. The Lightning have the edge in shot attempts (+12), shots (+1), scoring chances (+12) and have a 54.29 CF%. The Islanders have two more high-danger chances at 5v5 and a slightly higher xGF% (3.89 compared to 3.25). Both teams have three goals each at 5v5.
The Islanders return home where they are 4-2 in these playoffs, and you can bet Nassau will be absolutely rocking. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Lightning, though, as they only have one loss in six road games in the playoffs and have only allowed two goals over their last three games away from Tampa Bay. Those three games came in Carolina against one of the strongest home teams in the league.
Tampa Bay has the edge up front and in goal, which isn’t a knock on Semyon Varlamov, who has been solid of late. Andrei Vasilevskiy is just in a class of his own. The former Vezina winner and current nominee has a .941 SV%, 1.87 GAA, 4.10 GSAA and league-best .910 HDSV%. Ilya Sorokin is the only remaining goalie in these playoffs who has a better save percentage at 5v5 and even strength than Vasilevskiy (.933 SV%), and he’s backing up Varlamov. Vasilevskiy’s 6.35 GSAA at all strengths is by far the best mark in the league. Carey Price ranks second with 3.96 goals saved above average.
The Islanders only have four goals in two games, and Vasilevskiy has allowed two or fewer goals in six of his past eight games. Add that to the fact the Islanders’ 42.56 CF% at 5v5 is the second worst mark in the playoffs behind the St. Louis Blues. They’ve generated the fifth-fewest shots per 60 minutes at 5v5 (lowest of the remaining teams) and they’ve coughed up the third-most per 60 at 5v5. They’ve also surrendered the most high-danger chances at 5v5/60 out of all the remaining teams.
Say what you want about those statistics as this is a new series, and it’s been pretty even through two games. Let’s give the Islanders credit, because they are a strong defensive team and they don’t allow much. This series has a low scoring feel to it despite six goals in Game 2. I do believe the Islanders will get at least one win on home ice, but I’ll side with the Lightning in Game 3.
Prediction: 3-2, Tampa Bay
Best Bet: Under 5.5
Props: Jean-Gabriel Pageau O 1.5 SOG; Brayden Point O 0.5 Points; Victor Hedman O 0.5 Assists
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