Lightning Playing for Seeding
The Tampa Bay Lightning are trying to avoid falling into a wild card spot when they wrap up the regular season at the New York Islanders on Friday night. Tampa Bay holds a one-point lead over the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with one game to play.
The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning will play either the Toronto Maple Leafs or Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs depending on the outcome of Friday’s games.
The last time NHL fans experienced a true Eastern Conference finals, the Lightning and Islanders were going toe-to-toe in a six-game thriller in Edmonton. On Friday, the two teams meet in a regular-season finale that carries much more weight for Tampa Bay.
Lightning in Need of Win
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been NHL royalty for the better part of a decade. Finally, their countless playoff appearances paid off with back-to-back Stanley Cup victories, giving the franchise three total. However, a regulation loss could potentially kick the Bolts down to a wild card spot, making their path toward a three-peat far more treacherous.
Tampa Bay is finding its groove at the right time. A loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday snapped a four-game winning streak that included victories over the playoff-bound Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. The Lightning also have health on their side, with former MVP Nikita Kucherov rounding into form and captain Steven Stamkos reaching a career high in points (103).
With backup Brian Elliott drawing the start on Thursday, star netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy should slide back into the crease. The former Vezina Trophy winner is an impressive 38-18-5.
Islanders Can End on High Note
A fourth straight playoff berth isn’t in the cards for the New York Islanders. New York fought hard to come back from a dreadful 5-10-5 start to the season but ultimately fell short as the 2021-22 campaign came to a close. The interesting news, however, is that NHL futures odds can see significant movement with one more Islanders victory
If the Islanders net one point against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins knock off the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning would drop down to the top wild card spot for a date with a tough Carolina Hurricanes squad. And New York is playing well enough to do it, outscoring the Washington Capitals 9-2 over its last two contests.
Ilya Sorokin is set to start the Islanders’ final game. While his win-loss record is simply OK, the 26-year-old is fourth in goals-against average (2.35) and second in save percentage (.927).
Lightning vs Islanders Head-to-Head
The Lightning are facing close to a must-win situation, unless Boston loses in Toronto. Fortunately for them, they’ve dominated the New York Islanders in each of their first two contests.
In the first month of the season, the Lightning beat the Islanders 4-1, the third of New York’s 11 consecutive losses. And last month, Tampa Bay went on the road and earned another 4-1 victory.
Tampa Bay also holds the all-time advantage with a 69-56-3 record against New York, which includes a 16-7 postseason record.
Lightning vs Islanders Game Information
- Game: Lightning (50-23-8) vs Islanders (37-34-10)
- Location: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY
- Day/Time: Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Lightning vs Islanders Live stream: NHL.TV
Lightning vs Islanders Betting Lines
Lightning vs Islanders Prediction
Those itching to bet online are in luck. Right now, you can grab the Tampa Bay Lightning at -190 to win on the road or the New York Islanders at +165 to pull off the home upset.
Typically, a moneyline gap that large warrants a look at the spread — and that’s where things get interesting. Despite a pair of multi-goal victories in their earlier matchups, the Lightning are only +125 to cover the -1½. Meanwhile, the Islanders are -145 to keep things to within a goal or better.
The Islanders are certainly going to play hard in their final performance of the season. And yes, it’s possible the Lightning value rest and health over their first-round opponent. However, the Bolts are clicking on all cylinders, particularly on offense. Not to mention a guy like Vasilevskiy should be able to fend off New York’s bottom-10 scoring attack.
The Lightning are the much better team and know that a victory ensures a date with the beatable Maple Leafs over a dogfight with the Hurricanes. Head to the sportsbook and grab the Bolts to cover the spread at plus money.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1½ (+125)