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NHL Game 3 Odds, Pick & Preview: Panthers vs. Lightning (May 22)

NHL Game 3 Odds, Pick & Preview: Panthers vs. Lightning (May 22) article feature image
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Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • It's Game 3 between the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • Tampa Bay won the first two games on the road and is looking to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the Batle of Florida.
  • Carol Schram breaks down the matchup below.

Panthers vs. Lightning Game 3 Odds

Panthers Odds -115
Lightning Odds -105
Over/Under 6.5 (+100/-120)
Time 1:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

With a pair of road wins in their pocket, the Tampa Bay Lightning return home on a high note as the scene shifts to Amalie Arena for Sunday’s Game 3 in the Battle of Florida.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions are just two games away from punching their ticket to the final four for the third straight year, while the Florida Panthers have no more time to waste if they hope to extend their storybook season.

Here’s the latest on the Panthers and the Lightning and your best bet for Game 3.

Florida Panthers

Let’s start with the most obvious issue at hand: Florida’s power play has flatlined.

In the regular season, the Panthers’ power play clicked at a rate of 24.4%. It was good for 64 of the team’s league-leading 340 goals (18.8% of its total scoring).

In the playoffs, Florida is 0-for-25 and has scored just 22 goals in eight playoff games. The Panthers are averaging just 2.75 goals per game, which is well short of their 4.11 goals per game from the regular season. It’s also the lowest rate of any team still alive in the playoffs.

Making matters worse, Florida’s penalty kill has now surrendered 11 goals in the playoffs, more than any other team. After being in the middle-of-the-pack during the regular season, the P.K. is at just 66.7% so far in the playoffs and trending down. Tampa Bay has gone 4-for-9 with the man advantage over two games.

It’s imperative Florida’s rookie head coach, Andrew Brunette, finds a way to make successful adjustments on his special teams. That challenge gets even tougher as the series shifts to Tampa, where the Panthers will no longer have last change.

It’s unfortunate because the Panthers aren’t playing badly at 5-on-5. They’re carrying an expected goals rate of 52.16% through the playoffs and were at 54.23% in their first two games against the Lightning. Sergei Bobrovsky has also been solid in net, with 4.3 goals saved above expected in the postseason.

At this time of year, most players are dealing with bumps and bruises — or worse. However, the only regular roster player who’s not expected to be available for Florida on Sunday is forward Mason Marchment, who has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

For the Lightning, injuries are the No. 1 talking point. Starting with Corey Perry’s stitches to the face during warmups, Game 2 featured a revolving door of dressing-room visits in a contest where Tampa Bay blocked 24 shots compared to Florida’s 14.

Brandon Hagel missed practice Saturday and Coach Jon Cooper said the Lightning are hopeful Hagel will be able to suit up for Game 3.

The news is not as good for Brayden Point, who suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 against Toronto and is expected to be sidelined for a third straight game.

While special teams have been a weakness for the Panthers, they’ve been a strength for Tampa Bay so far in this series. That could amplify further now that the Lightning are back on home ice.

And while Tampa Bay has been slightly weaker than Florida at 5-on-5 so far in the series, Andrei Vasilevskiy is rounding into playoff form. He has allowed just one goal in each of his past three games and is now up to a .915 save percentage and 6.0 goals saved above expected in the postseason. That ranks him behind only Jake Oettinger of Dallas and Edmonton’s Mike Smith.

Panthers vs. Lightning Pick

When these two teams met in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, Florida also had home-ice advantage. And just like this year, the Lightning opened the series with a pair of road wins. Then, with their backs against the wall, the Panthers eked out a 6-5 overtime road win in Game 3, before ultimately falling in six games.

Don’t expect the same outcome this time around.

The Lightning know exactly how hard it is to get all the way to a Stanley Cup championship. As banged up as they are right now, they also know how valuable it would be to finish this series quickly and enjoy some much-needed rest and recovery time.

On Sunday, look for another sparkling outing from Vasilevskiy and for the Lightning to clamp down defensively, pushing the frustrated Panthers to the brink of elimination.

The Lightning opened as -130 favorites for Game 3, but the line has shifted in the Panthers’ favor as of Saturday afternoon. That makes the home-ice champs a solid value bet.

Pick: Lightning moneyline (-105); play down to -115

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