NHL Odds, Preview, Expert Pick & Prediction: Penguins vs. Lightning (March 2)
Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Hagel #38 of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
- These teams typically play high-scoring affairs and that leads our expert to a pick on the total.
- Continue reading for Tony Sartori's best bet.
Penguins vs. Lightning Odds
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To kick off Thursday's NHL slate, the Atlantic Division's Tampa Bay Lightning host the Metropolitan Division's Pittsburgh Penguins in an Eastern Conference tilt.
High-scoring affairs are typically in store when these clubs meet as the over has gone 4-0-1 across the past five matchups.
Here's a look at the odds, as well as our betting pick and prediction for Penguins vs. Lightning.
Just two games ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 at PPG Paints Arena. Another high-scoring game should be in order, especially with Pittsburgh's dynamite offense.
At 5-on-5, the Penguins rank fourth in the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60), which isn't shocking given their firepower. However, a thin blue line is the result of stacking the forward group.
Due to its thin defensive group, Pittsburgh ranks just 23rd in the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at 5-on-5. Backing up this poor defensive team is goaltender Tristan Jarry.
Through 31 starts this season, Jarry is 18-7-5 with a .918 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.73 goals against average (GAA). While those surface-level stats are strong, his underlying metrics suggest regression should start to hit as the season winds down.
Among starting goaltenders, Jarry ranks 20th in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning share many qualities with the Penguins. Like Pittsburgh, Tampa boasts an electrifying offense and ranks seventh in the league in xGF/60 at 5-on-5.
Also like the Penguins, the Lightning's incredible offense comes at the cost of a thin blue line. At 5-on-5, Tampa ranks just 20th in the league in xGA/60.
The main difference between these clubs is in net because future first-ballot Hall of Famer Andrei Vasilevskiy is slated to start for Tampa Bay. Due to the defense's underwhelming play, Vasilevskiy's job has been more difficult this year than in previous installments.
That's why we have seen some poor performances from him in the past month (allowing six goals to Buffalo, four to Vegas and seven to Florida).
Penguins vs. Lightning Pick
Due to Tampa's elite offense and poor defense, it is not shocking that taking the over has been a hot bet. In fact, there have been seven or more goals scored in eight of Tampa Bay's past 13 games.
That trend should continue in this matchup, especially considering the elite play of both offenses and the sub-average play of each blue line. Jarry is due for regression, so Tampa should hold up its end.
The biggest concern is Vasilevskiy. While the defense makes his life more difficult, he is still putting up tremendous results and is a tough fade when taking the over.
With that said, there have been seven or more goals scored in four of his past six starts.
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