NHL Hockey Betting: New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning

NHL Hockey Betting:  New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning&h=235&w=320&zc=1

The Canada-less Stanley Cup playoffs continue on Sunday as the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Islanders at Amalie Arena. It wasn’t that long ago that this had the look of an evenly matched series that had the potential to go seven games. Now after back to back overtime wins on the Islanders’ home ice at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center the Lightning have their opponent on the verge of elimination.

It’s easy to say that the Lightning ‘got lucky’ by winning two straight overtime games on enemy ice. But both games followed a very similar ‘arc’. The Islanders controlled play early and took a lead into the third period. In both games Nikita Kucherov scored to tie the game–in Game Three in the final minute–and send it to overtime. Once it overtime the Lightning scored within minutes to take the victory. The winning goal in Game Three came approximately two and a half minutes into overtime, in Game Four it was just 1:34 into the extra session.

Not to say that the Lightning ‘planned it this way’ but they did what playoff experienced teams do–find a way to win close games. And the Islanders did what playoff inexperienced teams do–find a way to lose close games. Two blown third period leads for New York. Two overtime losses in under three minutes. The difference could be the respective playoff experience of these teams. The Lightning played in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. The Islanders entered this postseason having not won a playoff series since the 1990’s. They got that ‘monkey off their back’ in Round One against Florida. That’s great and all but now they’re a team that has won one playoff series since 1990. They have some Stanley Cup winners on the team including former Boston Bruin Johnny Boychuk. That’s helpful, but it can’t compare with a team that has tasted playoff success as a cohesive unit.

The Islanders have some big changes on the horizon during the offseason. John Tavares is as good as any player in the NHL but the current group looks to have reached their ‘glass ceiling’. Tampa Bay wins here and advances to the Eastern Conference Finals.


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