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Panthers vs Hurricanes Game 1: NHL Odds, Best Bets for Series Opener

Panthers vs Hurricanes Game 1: NHL Odds, Best Bets for Series Opener article feature image

Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Montour #62 of the Florida Panthers

  • Our hockey experts have a host of NHL best bets for Panthers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 on Thursday night.
  • Our picks include a juicy futures bet, as well as four game-specific picks.
  • Check our all of the Florida vs. Carolina betting angles, including a trio of player props for tonight's series opener, below.

Check out our Panthers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 best bets from our crew of hockey experts for Thursday, May 18.

The 2022-23 NHL postseason rolls on with tonight’s Florida Panthers vs. Carolina Hurricanes Game 1, which serves as the series opener (8 p.m., TNT).

Below, check out our hockey crew’s top picks, including some game plays and a futures bet, for the East Conference Finals matchup.

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Panthers vs. Hurricanes Game 1 Best Bets

Martin Necas Series Goals Leader (+1200)

Nicholas Martin: Martin Necas’ dynamic offensive skill set was on full display in the second round against the New Jersey Devils. His three goals in the series tied Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jordan Martinook for the team lead.

Necas is a tremendous skater who is threatening in transition, as well as off of the cycle in the offensive zone. For many of the reasons William Nylander generated a ton of chances versus the Panthers, Necas should do the same.

He is the second most common shooter on Carolina’s top power play, which could be in for a big series since Florida has killed off just 65.8% of penalties taken this postseason.

Teuvo Teravainen is set to return to the lineup and will play alongside Necas at even strength. While it is possible that Teravainen could lead the series in goals himself (he’s favored to do so at BetMGM), his return is still a good thing for this wager. Playing alongside Teravainen should help Necas spend more time in the offensive zone and potentially be on the end of some quality passes.

Necas deserves to be priced closer to the outright favorites to lead this series in goals, and I believe +1200 is a great price.

The Pick: Martin Necas series goals leader (+1200 at BetMGM)

Panthers vs. Hurricanes 1st Period Total Under 1.5 (-110)

Ryan Dadoun: The Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes have done well offensively in the playoffs, averaging 3.33 and 3.64 goals per game, respectively.

However, Sergei Bobrovsky has been dialed in, posting a 4-1 record, 1.89 GAA and .943 save percentage in Florida’s last five contests. Meanwhile, Frederik Andersen has been similarly dominant for the Hurricanes with a 5-0 record, 1.80 GAA and .931 save percentage in his last six appearances.

This has the potential to be a tightly contested duel between two hot goaltenders, and I think that’s going to be especially true in the early portion of Game 1, during which these two teams will be feeling out each other.

While they did play each other on April 13, that was in a relatively low-stakes, end-of-the-season contest. Before that outing, Carolina hadn’t faced the Panthers since Dec. 30, and the squads met a total of just three games throughout the entire season. This will also be the first time the Panthers and Hurricanes have ever met in a playoff setting, so there should be some cautious play early on.

To top it off, these are teams that tend to be slow to get going offensively. Of Florida’s 40 goals in the 2023 playoffs, just eight have come in the first period. Carolina is even worse in that regard, tallying six of its 40 markers in the first frame.

That all makes me feel good recommending the first period under.

Pick: First-period total goals under 1.5 (-110)

Brandon Montour Under 0.5 points (+132)

Greg Liodice: The playoffs bring out a number of names that the casual fan may not have known prior. Brandon Montour is one of them. After a career-best season, the 29-year-old defenseman has solidified himself as a staple on the Florida Panthers’ blue line. In 12 games these playoffs, Montour has lit up the scoresheet with nine points in 12 games, but in the last four, he was held pointless.

Keeping that in mind, I think Montour’s pointless streak continues. While he is a threat to get pucks on net, the Hurricanes are one of the better five-on-five defensive teams and hold by far the best penalty kill in the postseason.

Montour has shined on the power play so far, but until I see any team breaking the Canes’ PK, I’m not holding my breath.

Although he leads the team in high-danger chances, his expected goals and scoring chance percentages have dropped since the Boston series. Not only that, but I’m expecting Game 1 to be a grind and a feeling-out process. Goaltending and defense will dominate tonight’s game, and I don’t see many entering the scoresheet.

It’s why I think at +132, it’s pretty decent value for Montour to be held pointless.

Pick: Brandon Montour under 0.5 points (+132)

Brent Burns Over 3.5 Shots on Goal (-110)

Nicholas Martin: The Panthers will likely prove to be a better target for the Hurricanes’ volume shooters than either the Devils or Islanders. Florida has allowed 33.48 shots against per 60 this postseason, which is the third-highest mark of any of the 16 teams.

This is a spot where we want to target a Hurricanes shooter and particularly one who plays on the top power-play unit.

Florida has done a great job setting a physical tone early with edgy play on in the last two series. That has come at a cost, however, as the Panthers have taken 16 minor penalties in Games 1-2 of the last two series combined.

Brent Burns’ 21.66 shot attempts per 60 minutes rank 10th among skaters who have played more than 100 minutes this postseason, and he’s done that averaging close to 24 minutes per game.

Pick: Brent Burns over 3.5 shots on goal (-110)

Martin Necas Under 2.5 Shots on Goal

Tony Sartori: The big news surrounding the Carolina Hurricanes this week is the return of winger Teuvo Teravainen, who is expected to skate on the left side of the Jordan Staal-Martin Necas line. While Teravainen is a solid two-way player, his offensive creation for others lacks.

Prior to his hand injury, Teravainen skated alongside Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis on the first line. In the 11 games leading up to his injury, Aho and Jarvis each registered three or more shots on goal just three times.

So, is it possible that Necas falls beneath that threshold, as well? The sportsbooks think it is a possibility, considering that his shot total is at 2.5 despite achieving at least three shots on goal in eight of his past 11 contests.

However, while Necas did not skate on the same line as Teravainen, it is worth pointing out that Necas stayed under 2.5 shots in 10 of the 15 games prior to Teravainen’s injury. Finally, it is worth noting that it will be interesting to keep an eye on how many shots these offenses muster in this contest.

The play-style dynamic of this series will be worth monitoring, considering that both teams love to dump and chase. We could see a lot of puck-flipping back and forth, which could lead to lower shot totals in this series.

Necas has registered two or fewer shots on goal in 14 of his 17 career games against the Panthers.

Pick: Martin Necas under 2.5 shots on goal (+125 at BetRivers)

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