Game: New York Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Odds: Rangers +155, Lightning -175
Tampa Bay proved that it is still the defending Stanley Cup champion with a Game 3 win to cut the Rangers series lead to 2-1. The Lightning were clearly the better team in Game 3 and playing on their home ice again tonight will provide just the right environment to help Tampa Bay even the series at 2-2. It helped in Game 3 as the Lightning pounded Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin with 52 shots.
Playing at home has been a huge advantage for teams in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Overall, home teams are 54-30 this playoff season. Home-ice advantage typically isn’t that big of a disparity whether it is the regular season or the playoffs. Consider the Rangers in the postseason this year. They won the first two games of this series to take their home playoff record to 8-1. On the road? New York is just 2-6, which doesn’t bode well for the Rangers tonight at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay is one of the better NHL teams at home this season. Overall, the Lightning are now 32-9-6 on their home ice. That includes wins in their last five straight at home. If Tampa Bay continues to pepper Shesterkin with 30-plus shots per game, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions are going to be in a good position to advance to the Stanley Cup finals once again.
If there has been a thorn in Tampa Bay’s side, it is the Rangers. With the Game 3 loss, the Rangers are now 5-1 SU in their last six games against the Lightning. New York is also 4-1 SU in its last five overall. The big reason for the Rangers’ success is the play of Shesterkin. He is the likely Vezina Trophy winner and he is the only reason why the Rangers kept Game 3 close. Shesterkin stopped 49 shots, otherwise, the score would have been much worse. In the first three games of the series, the Rangers goalie has allowed seven goals while facing 122 shots.
The losses in Games 1 and 2 are the only Lightning defeats in the team’s last nine games. As mentioned, Tampa Bay has won five straight at home. The Lightning have a pretty good goalie of their own in Andrei Vasilevskiy who has now allowed two and three goals in his last two games after getting blasted in Game 1. The key for Tampa Bay will be the defense keeping New York’s shot attempts in the 28 to 30 range. Vasilevskiy faced 30 shots in Game 3 and 28 in Game 2.
Both teams trend Under. The total has gone Under in seven of the last ten Rangers games. For Tampa Bay, the Under is 7-1 in the Lightning’s last eight games. The Under trend is reflected in tonight’s total of 5.5. Interestingly, in the last six games between these two teams that have been played in Tampa, the Over is 4-2.