Lightning at Panthers Game 5 Betting Preview

In the battle of the Sunshine State, the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning are one win away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs. However, the Florida Panthers will lay everything on the line to avoid elimination as the series shifts back to Sunrise on Monday for Game 5.

Here is a look at what has happened through the first four games of the series, some players to keep an eye on, and a free betting pick. This game is much closer than the others this series, according to the latest odds, as Tampa Bay is just a -116 favorite on the road while Florida sits at -102.

Series Recap

This series had as memorable of a Game 1 as any we’ve seen in the playoffs. Both teams ended up trading goals and blowing leads, but thanks to center Brayden Point’s two goals, including his game-winner with 1:14 remaining, the Bolts took the series opener by a score of 5-4.

While Game 2 had less action, the end result was the same. The Panthers were unable to overcome an early two-goal deficit, as the Lightning won 3-1 to take both games on the road. Andrei Vasilevskiy had his best performance of the series, making 32 saves and earning the first star of the game.

Then for Game 3, a five-goal second period for the Lightning had it seem like they were on their way to a 3-0 lead in the series. But the Panthers completed the comeback on the road, netting a pair of goals in the third before left wing Ryan Lomberg scored on a breakaway in overtime to lead Florida to a 6-5 victory.

However, Florida’s momentum wouldn’t last for long. Tampa came out firing in Game 4, scoring three goals in the first period and getting a pair of scores from left wing Alex Killorn in the second period. Despite getting outshot 41-26 for the game, the Lightning still cruised to victory 6-2, putting them one win away from ending this series.

Who to Watch

It’s safe to say the Lightning are happy to have right wing Nikita Kucherov back in their lineup. After missing the entire regular season recovering from shoulder surgery, Kucherov leads the team with nine points, with all three of his goals coming on the power play.

Killorn and defenseman Victor Hedman are next on the points list with seven, with all of Hedman’s points coming via assist. In addition, center Steven Stamkos is among the group of 11 Lightning players who have two or more points in this series.

As for the Panthers, only left wings Jonathan Huberdeau and Carter Verhaeghe have multiple goals this series. Huberdeau, in particular, has been strong, where after leading Florida in the regular season, he leads them this postseason with eight points total.

Center Aleksander Barkov and right wing Owen Tippett have five and four points, respectively. However, Barkov has a -6 plus-minus this series. Ultimately, the real story for Florida will be in net, where after Sergei Bobrovsky and Chris Driedger each started two games and struggled, rookie Spencer Knight will likely get the starting nod in this elimination game.

Key Stat

In Stanley Cup playoff history, home teams are 343-340 when they face elimination, a winning percentage of .502. However, the number of wins increases significantly in Game 5’s, where the home team facing elimination is 66-47, a .584 winning percentage.

Betting Pick

The Panthers will obviously be motivated to stay alive, so I expect a strong effort to come from them on Monday. However, it’s a lot to ask a rookie goalie in his playoff debut to out-duel a Vezina winner in Vasilevskiy and keep this hot and healthy Lightning team at bay.

With Tampa Bay at just -116, it’s hard to go against them, especially when you look at how dominant their offense has been throughout the series. I’m officially picking the Lightning to close out the series with a win in Game 5.

Pick: Lightning -116


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