NHL Odds, Picks & Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders Game 3 (Friday, Sept. 11)

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Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Eberle

Sep 11, 2020, 06:00 PM EDT
  • Following a blowout in Game 1 and a tight loss in Game 2, the Islanders trail the Lightning 2-0 in the NHL Conference Finals.
  • Is now the time to buy back the Isles? Or should bettors back Tampa Bay to continue to roll?
  • Michael Leboff breaks down Lightning vs. Islanders Game 3.

Game 3: Lightning vs. Islanders Odds

Lightning Odds -143 [BET NOW]
Islanders Odds +123 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 5 (-137/+112) [BET NOW]
Time 8 p.m. ET
TV USA

Odds updated as of Friday 6 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


The New York Islanders have lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals in very different ways. After getting blown out, 8-2, in a closer-than-it-looked-but-still-bad Game 1, the Islanders succeeded at turning Game 2 into a rock fight but lost, 2-1, on a last-gasp winner from Nikita Kucherov with eight seconds left in the third period.

The Lightning are now massive -1430 favorites to win the Eastern Conference Finals and are odds-on (-120) to win the Stanley Cup at DraftKings.


Expected goals (also known as xG) is a predictive statistic that gives an indication of whether results are based on sustainable factors like a steady creation of scoring chances, or whether it is down to aspects such as shooting luck or outstanding goaltending.

Simply put, an expected goals rate (xGF%) above 50% is considered good because it means a team is creating the majority of the scoring chances. Anything below 50% is usually a sign that a team is struggling to control play.

xG numbers cited from Evolving Hockey.


Most people know the Lightning as goal-scoring juggernauts, but it’s Tampa’s defense that makes it elite. The Bolts allowed the sixth-fewest goals at 5-on-5 during the regular season and were a top-five team in preventing high-danger scoring chances. Tampa was the fourth-best defense by expected goals in 2019/20.

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Tampa’s defense has played up to snuff against the Islanders. The Lightning have held New York to just two goals on 2.41 xG in 82 minutes of 5-on-5 play.

5-on-5 Stat Lightning Islanders
Goals 6 2
Expected Goals 3.02 2.41
Shot Attempts 66 57
High-danger scoring chances 18 12

The Lightning’s stifling defense has been a taste of the Islanders’ own medicine as Barry Trotz’s team prides itself on playing a hard-to-breakdown style. Even though Tampa has enough talent to win high-scoring games, the Bolts have shown they are perfectly comfortable playing “Islanders” hockey.

The Islanders rarely get thrown off their game. They play the same way whether they are up 2-1 or down 3-0. It’s what has made them such an intriguing team to bet under Trotz.

The Isles may get blown out one night, but 24 hours later they’ve wiped the slate clean and are back to their grinding game. It’s hard to rattle this team, but they’ve yet to face a challenge like this in the postseason.

Odds Lightning Islanders
Game 1 -165 +140
Game 2 -167 +144
Game 3 -155 +133

You may be wondering why the Islanders have shortened after losing Games 1 and 2. The answer is that Brayden Point, Tampa’s best forward, is questionable after leaving Wednesday’s contest early in the second period. The fact that the Isles are sitting as low as +130 for Friday night’s tilt leads me to believe that Point is more likely to sit than play in Game 3.

Even if Point sits, I don’t think we’ll see the Islanders dip much further than where they stand on late Thursday night.

Game 3 Betting Analysis

I doubt it happens, but there’s a slight chance the betting market overreacts to Point sitting out and pushes this number in range for a bet on the Lightning. I’d be looking for -140 or better in that scenario.

The more likely situation is I’m back on the Islanders for more pain in Game 3. FanDuel has the Islanders at +145 at the time of writing and I think that number is just good enough to get involved. At that price you need the Islanders to win Game roughly 42% of the time and, considering the circumstances, I think they check that box, though not by much.

I do think you can stand to wait out the market if you are planning on betting the Islanders. Point’s status looms large, but I’m hopeful that the Bolts will attract some betting support on Friday considering their current six-game winning streak and reputation. Most bettors are not conditioned to bet on a team that just got its heart blown to bits 48 hours earlier.

The Bet: New York Islanders +145 or better

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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Follow Michael J. Leboff on Twitter
@TheBigLeebowski

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