Panthers Have Plenty of Work To Do
The Presidents’ Trophy curse seems to have found its way to the Sunshine State. No team that has finished with the most points in the regular season has advanced past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs since the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup in 2013.
If the Florida Panthers are to change that, they will need to have success on the road. The Panthers dropped the first two games against the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning at home. Now Florida will need to win at least two road games to advance.
Florida has split its last six games played at Tampa Bay scoring 15 goals in the three wins.
According to the NHL playoff odds, Tampa Bay and Florida were tied at +550 for the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup championship before Game 2. Now Tampa Bay is second at +400 while Florida’s odds have risen to +900.
Panthers Look To Get Offense Going
The Florida Panthers picked the worst possible time to struggle in the goal-scoring department.
Florida has been held to two goals in a two-game span all season but the Panthers managed one goal in each of the first two games in the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now the Panthers face an uphill battle in their quest to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1996.
Aleksandar Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Claude Girioux, Mason Marchment and Anton Lundell combined for 211 goals during the regular season. However, during the first two games of the second-round series they have no goals on 36 shots on goal. It is a far cry from the first-round series when they had 16 goals in the six games against the Washington Capitals.
After dropping the first game 4-1, the Panthers played like a desperate team. Florida outshot Tampa Bay 36-28, outhit the Lightning 52-35 and was +6 in the faceoff department. However, all they had to show for it was a goal late in the second period by Eetu Luostarinen.
Florida will not only need to win either the next four games or four of the next five to advance on in the playoffs, but three of the next four games will be played in Tampa Bay.
“This is a good challenge for us,” Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky said. “The whole year we’ve been fighting. We have found a way to come back in games, from adversities. This is another test for us.”
The NHL Vegas odds total has gone under in six of Florida’s last eight games.
Colton, Vasilevskiy Weave More Playoff Magic
As a rookie, Ross Colton was the unlikely scorer of the clinching goal that gave the Tampa Bay Lightning their second straight Stanley Cup title.
Colton struck again as his goal with 3.8 seconds left to play lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 2.
Colton didn’t have a point in his last four regular-season games. However, his production has increased once the playoffs started. He has five goals and two assists in nine postseason games though he ranks eighth among Lightning forwards in time on ice. Colton has goals in each of the games in this series.
THAT’S ROSS GOAL-TON TO YOU pic.twitter.com/cH9UyQ0Znq
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 20, 2022
He took a pass from Nikita Kucherov and beat Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to stun the home crowd.
“He’s got eyes in the back of his head because I didn’t even know he knew I was there,” Colton said after the Game 2 win. “He gift-wrapped it for me.”
If Colton was looking for his game in the latter stages of the regular season, what was veteran goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy doing?
In one six-game stretch in April, Vasilevskiy was 0-4 with a 3.66 goals-against average and a save percentage of .887. He did win his last four games in the regular season. In the deciding game in the series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and in the first game against the Panthers, Vasilevsky has stopped 99 of 102 shots.
The NHL bettinglines total has gone under in 13 of the Lightning’s last 19 contests.
Panthers vs Lightning Head-to-Head
The Panthers and Lightning combined for 24 goals in the last two games during the regular season. Goals have been harder to come by in this series with Tampa Bay scoring six of the eight goals.
Five goals were scored in both games during the regular season when Florida played at Tampa Bay.
Defenseman Victor Hedman has one goal and seven assists in six games against Florida while veteran forward Corey Perry has two goals and two assists. Jonathan Huberdeau leads Florida with eight points (two goals, six assists) against the Lightning.
Tampa Bay has won five of the last six games decided by one goal against Florida.
Something to consider for those who bet online, the money is favoring Tampa Bay winning in either four or five games as both results carry a Moneyline of +275. That is followed by the Lightning winning in six games (+375) and Florida winning in seven (+500).
Panthers vs Lightning Game Information
- Game: Panthers (58-18-6 in the regular season) vs Lightning (51-23-8)
- Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
- Day/Time: Sunday, May 22, 1:30 p.m. ET
- Panthers vs Lightning Live Stream: NHL.TV
Panthers vs Lightning Betting Lines
Panthers vs Lightning Prediction
If the Tampa Bay Lightning has shown nothing else during its playoff success in the last three years, it is that the next-man-up mentality is alive and well.
Two years ago Tampa Bay won the title even though captain Steven Stamkos was limited to one postseason game. Now, the Lightning has won the first two games in this series without key forward Brayden Point. The good news for Tampa Bay is that there is an extra day between Games 2 and 3 so maybe this will help as Point and fellow forward Brandon Hagel are both questionable with lower-body injuries.
Florida’s Mason Marchment is questionable with a lower-body injury so keep an eye on his status heading into Sunday’s game.
The Panthers outscored the Lighting 6-4 in two games playing in Tampa during the regular season. Florida only had four power plays in those two games but did score once. The Panthers are 0-for-7 on the power play in the series, They are 0-for-25 on the power play in the postseason while Tampa Bay is 4-of-9. That will need to change for the Panthers to have a chance in this series.
Pick: Panthers -115
Pick: Lightning +1½ (-245)