The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off an incredible come-from-behind, overtime victory Thursday versus the Detroit Red Wings and bring that momentum to the nation's capital where they take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
The back-to-back champions don't look like the team we saw hoisting the Cup this summer, but have the lines adjusted too much considering Tampa's inconsistencies out of the gates? The line opened as a pick ‘em with the total set at a flat 6.5.
Here are our free NHL betting picks and predictions for Lightning vs. Capitals for Saturday, October 16.
Lightning vs Capitals odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Lightning vs Capitals picks
Picks made on 10/15/2021 at 2:50 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Lightning vs Capitals game info
• Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
• Date: Saturday, October 16, 2021
• Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: NBCS-DC, BSSUN
Lightning vs Capitals betting preview
Lightning: Zach Bogosian D (Out), Cal Foote D (Out).
Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom C (Out).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Lightning vs Capitals head-to-head record
Lightning: 1-3, 8 goals scored (2019-20 season)
Capitals: 3-1, 15 goals scored (2019-20 season)
Betting trend to know
The Lightning are 1-4 SU in the last five meetings vs. the Capitals. Find more NHL betting trends for Lightning vs. Capitals.
Lightning vs Capitals picks and predictions
Washington ML (-110)
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals will face off for the first time since the 2020 bubble. Tampa opened its season with a lethargic performance against the Penguins in a 6-2 loss. It followed that by getting outplayed for 53 minutes against the Red Wings before a miraculous three-goal comeback forced overtime, where Ondrej Palat scored the winner. The Bolts lost as -277 favorites to Pittsburgh and nearly lost again as -244 favorites. Perhaps we’re overvaluing a team that lost its entire third line and trying to transition from playoff to regular season hockey. It also doesn’t help when every team gets up to beat the back-to-back champions.
Washington has played just one game and heads into Saturday’s matchup with an extra day of rest after an opening victory at home versus the New York Rangers. Many were very high on the Rangers heading into the season but Washington won the aggressive battle easily. In that 5-1 win over New York, the Caps flexed their power play strengths and buried three PP markers in six chances. Washington closed that game as, coincidentally, a pick ‘em. So, the question looking at the pricing is which team was priced incorrectly? The Rangers at -110 on Wednesday or the Lightning at -110 for this game?
The Rangers are now priced at +105 versus a mediocre Montreal team for their Saturday game, which leads us to believe that the Rangers at -110 versus the Capitals on Tuesday was the wrong price. This means Saturday’s TB/WSH pick ‘em is priced correctly and taking Tampa Bay just because of the price or “value” doesn’t seem to be a +EV play.
Andrei Vasivevskiy has played a lot of hockey over the calendar year and has started the season stopping just 49 of 58 shots. His two games were against a Pittsburgh team missing three of its best forwards and a Detroit team that finished the 2021 season near the bottom in goals per game. Vas does not look sharp to begin the year and has a negative goals save above expected.
Tampa has also uncharacteristically given up more quality scoring chances than it has manufactured, and if Detroit had held a three-goal lead in the game’s final minutes, we might be looking at Washington as more of a favorite Saturday.
The Capitals’ success in the opener had a lot to do with getting six power plays, but Peter Laviolette’s team dominated 5-on-5 play with a SCF% of 64 percent, which is a ratio of scoring chances for versus scoring chances against.
Alex Ovechkin also showed he can be productive without Niklas Backstrom, as Ovi finished with four points versus the Rangers.
Wednesday’s starter, Vitek Vanecek, also looked impressive in the surprise start and stopped 23 of 24 shots and finished with a +1.40 goals save above expected. The Caps only allowed three high-danger chances in front of Vanecek. Washington has not announced a starter yet but Vanecek should be the starter after his performance in the opener.
Washington has had more rest and less travel while Tampa isn’t a steal at -110. We’re taking the home side on the ML.
Over 6.5 (-110)
The Over train was in full effect Thursday as all but two of the games hit the Over to push the season-to-date total to 8-5 in favor of the Over. Washington and Tampa Bay have both shown that they can score in the early goings of the season but it’s Tampa’s uninterest in defense that has us eyeing this lofty Over of 6.5.
Tampa had no answer for the top line of Detroit Thursday, as it potted four even-strength goals. That came two days after the Penguins, without Sidney Crosby and Geno Malkin, scored six times (three empty netters) and won the xG% 67-33. Washington is a better offensive team than both the short-handed Pens and Red Wings.
With these big totals, we need action from both sides and both these teams feature two of the best top-two scoring lines in hockey. The Caps are giving 19-year-old Hendrix Lapierre a look on the second line and it paid off well Wednesday as the rookie potted his first NHL goal.
Vasilevskiy should get the start but if he doesn’t, Brian Elliot would go and this 6.5 price could head north as Elliot is below-average journeyman. As we mentioned before, Vas could be gassed as the Bolts rode him hard last season in the playoffs.
We aren’t too worried about who Washington starts in the crease from a total perspective because Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov are very similar goalies from a statistical standpoint.
We aren’t about to hit a Tampa Under after a 7-6 win two days ago.
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