NHL picks: 4 best bets for Islanders vs Lightning Game 7
Our NHL expert has picked out his four best bets for Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
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Tampa Bay Lightning to win
The thrilling Game 6 finish that saw the New York Islanders stave off elimination was what Stanley Cup hockey is all about. This series has been back-and-forth and an absolute war.
If there’s one thing we’ve seen the Lightning do time and time again when they get pushed, however, is push back. Hard, and usually on the scoreboard.
We don’t know if Nikita Kucherov will be in the lineup for Tampa Bay on Friday night. Not having the postseason’s leading scorer is a huge concern, but with the depth this team has, they should be able to weather the storm without him. Besides, Brayden Point has continued to light it up and Andrei Vasilveskiy remains one of the best goaltenders in the world. They can survive.
The Islanders have not won consecutive games in this series yet. They’re only two games removed from being blown out 8-0 in Tampa. It’s not an easy place to play, but they at least know they can win in that building. I just don’t know if they can do it in this spot.
After an emotional win, I’m sure the Islanders are riding high and feeling confident, but they’re going against the defending champs who have felt this kind of pressure before and gotten past it. The Lightning have not lost back-to-back games all postseason and I don’t see it starting now.
Under 5.5 total goals
This is going to be a tight game no matter how you put it. There were five goals in the last game and I think we’re going to see a similarly-contested game on Friday night.
Interestingly enough, Andrei Vasilevskiy has never won a Game 7, though he’s only appeared in two previously in his career. Semyon Varlamov is 1-3 in his career in Game 7s, so both goaltenders are going to be in a big-time pressure situation where they haven’t known a ton of success yet. But I think they’ll both be sharp.
One of the most interesting things in this series is that the Isles have been able to hold the Lightning to two or fewer goals in four of the six games of this series. They just make it tough to score. While I believe the Lightning will win, I don’t think it’s going to be by a lot.
Brayden Point to score anytime
Having scored in each of the last nine games, Point is in line to tie the all-time playoff record of goals in 10 straight games. He is just one game away from matching Philadelphia Flyers great Reggie Leach, who scored goals in 10 straight games on the way to his NHL-record 19 in a single postseason.
Point is at 14 goals in the playoffs and has been automatic in this series. Whether Kucherov is there or not, Point is going to find a way to have a massive impact on this game. He’s done it just about every other game so far, and I can’t see him slowing down now.
Empty net goal: Yes
In a tight game as I expect it to be, I like the value being offered on an empty net goal being scored.
I think the Lightning are going to be able to play with the lead a little bit and Barry Trotz is going to have to pull out all the stops to get his team to attempt to come back if they are in that situation.
This one isn’t more than a hunch, but I think you’ll hear Amalie Arena from all around the world if it happens and the Lightning send themselves to a second straight Stanley Cup Final.
BETWAY BOOST: Tampa Bay to win & Brayden Point to score anytime
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