The Tampa Bay Lightning will play host to the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their NHL Stanley Cup semifinal series for another exciting Lightning vs Islanders match-up. They’re coming home for Game 3, deadlocked 1-1 in this best-of-seven series.
The Islanders haven’t done well previously in their Game 3’s this postseason. They lost Game 3 vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. They also lost Game 3 to the Boston Bruins in Overtime in round number two back at Nassau Coliseum.
For this Stanley Cup semifinal, the Islanders will look to break their trend in the last two Game 3’s. However, the oddsmakers don’t feel like they will break that trend and have posted the Lightning as a -145 favorite.
The Lightning fell down 1-0 in this series at home after a 2-1 loss in Game 1. They responded with a Game 3 victory by a score of 4-2. They have been led at the helm by their superstars Nikita Kucherov (22 points in 13 games), Steven Stamkos (14 points in 13 games), and star defenseman Viktor Hedman (13 points in 13 games).
Islanders have been led by their young star Mathew Barzal (11 points in 14 games). He has been the heart of this team since their captain Anders Lee was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Key Players for the Lightning
Well, it seems like Nikita Kucherov didn’t need any time to play in the regular season. He is blazing hot in this postseason after rehabbing his hip for all of the regular season.
Ever since returning to action for Game 1 of the playoffs, Kucherov has scored at an alarming rate. He scored three dazzling assists, helping Tampa towards a 4-2 Game 2 victory over the Isles. Kucherov holds the lead for the Stanley Cup scoring title with 22 points. He’s scored 5 multi-point games and has scored 15 of the 22 points on the power play.
Meanwhile, Kucherov’s teammate Brayden Point is the playoff leader with 10 goals and has scored in each of Tampa Bay’s past five games. He has been a key player in Tampa Bay’s run to the semifinals.
Andrei Vasilevskiy has also been a key factor. He has recorded a .933 save percentage to lead all goaltenders in the NHL Playoffs with more than 10 games played. He also has a goals-against average of 2.21.
The Lightning need their star players to maintain this production through this series if they want to have a chance of beating Barry Trotz and the Isles.
Key Players for Islanders
The Isles have been led by their depth and the ability they have to score on all four lines. Jean-Gabriel Pageau leads the team with 13 points in 14 contests.
Young star Mathew Barzal has been consistent as well, scoring in Game 1 of this series and constantly getting chances by the net.
Trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri is tied for the team lead in goals with Brock Nelson at seven goals apiece. Expect them to get their chances and to get shots to the net.
After Semyon Varlamov left the net on Tuesday due to a controversial goaltender interference penalty that was called on Brayden Point, Ilya Sorokin was trusted to take his position. He let in the next 3 goals.
Luckily for the Islanders, it is looking like Varlamov will be ready to go for Game 3. Expect him to get the nod if he is ruled active.
Lightning vs Islanders Predictions and Picks
The Islanders have gone through much of the postseason as underdogs after entering the playoffs as the fourth seed in the East division. That narrative continues in this one, with the oddsmakers giving the advantage to the Lightning at -145.
Despite losing both Game 3’s at home in their previous two series, the Islanders were a total of 21-4-3 at home in the regular season and are 4-2 in this postseason so far.
While I do acknowledge the Islanders have good odds in this matchup at home, I am still going to go with my brain in this matchup and bet the Lightning.
They showed a huge advantage while skating 5 on 5 on Tuesday, and they seem too healthy and unstoppable.
I also expect this matchup to reach the over of five or more goals, or at least push. A high-scoring matchup is likely if the teams continue to take penalties and let their opponents get the man advantage.
Final Picks: Lightning ML (-145), Over 5 goals (-135)
*Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook