The two best teams in the NHL Eastern Conference tangle in Tampa Bay on Monday night.
The Lightning have been a terrific bet at home this season and are -150 favorites against the Bruins. Both sides are the cream of the crop in the East and have been on fire lately with the Bruins going 10-3 over the last month and the Lightning winning seven of their last eight games.
Boston and Tampa Bay split the first two games they played this season, with Boston losing in Tampa Bay 3-2 and winning 4-1 at TD Garden last month. We break down the odds and best bets for this marquee matchup.
You have the proverbial unstoppable force meeting the immovable object tonight. Tampa Bay leads the league in first period goals with 98, while Boston allows the fewest first period goals with 49 goals against. Both teams have scored first in 42 of 75 games this season.
While it might be difficult to figure out who will score first, the better bet might lie with the first period total. Boston hasn't allowed a goal in the first 20 minutes of their previous three games and with the tight game we expect tonight we don't think more than a single goal will be scored by both teams during the opening period.
Prediction: First Period Total - Under 1.5 (+115)
Tampa Bay can score equally well at any time in the game, potting between 92 and 98 goals during each period. Boston on the other hand, scores (82) and allows (67) their most goals during the second. Take the second period to be the highest scoring period of the game.
Prediction: Highest scoring period - Second (+240)
Nikita Kucherov might be leading the league in points but he is more of a creator than a natural goal scorer. While his 37 goals on the season are still impressive, he's only scored in five of his previous 20 games, including just a single goal over his previous six contests.
Over his career he has scored five goals in 19 games against the Bruins. Fade Kucherov tonight and bet on him to not score a goal.
Prediction: Nikita Kucherov to score a goal tonight - No
Full Game Total
In each of the previous two meetings between these teams this season, they combined for five goals. And the Under is 8-2-2 in the last 12 games of the head-to-head.
The Bruins are 12-5-1 to the Under in their last 18 games against teams with a winning record, while the Lightning are 4-1-1 to the Under in their previous six home contests.
While the Lightning get a lot of attention for their high-powered offense which leads the league in goals, they also have excellent goaltending. Tampa Bay's GAA is in the top-10 of the league and their save percentage of .918 is third-best, one spot ahead of Boston and their .917 save percent.
Boston allows the seventh-fewest shots per game and the third-fewest goals per game and will try to play at their typical slower pace in order to slow down the Tampa Bay attack. Expect this game to have a playoff feel and take the Under.
Prediction: Under 6 (-110)
Full Game Side
While the Lightning split the season series so far, they played backup goaltender Louis Domingue in nets both times. Tonight they are expecting to start Andrei Vasilevskiy who has a GAA of 2.33 and a save percentage of .928, far better than Domingue's 2.88 and .908.
The Bruins are just 8-17 in their last 25 games as a road underdog. The Lightning have been almost unbeatable at home having gone 11-1 in their last 12 games in Tampa Bay, a stretch which includes wins against Winnipeg, Calgary, Washington and Pittsburgh.
While taking a team at -150 against one of the better teams in the league isn't the sexiest of wagers, winning by more than a goal might be too difficult for Tampa Bay to justify taking them on the puckline here. But with their No. 1 goalie between the pipes and their success at home, we like Tampa Bay to come out on top again.
Prediction: Tampa Bay Moneyline (-150)