NHL Odds, Analysis For Lightning vs. Islanders: Tampa Bay on Upset Alert? (March 27)
Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier
- The Lightning and Islanders have both had busy schedules as the season winds down.
- They meet for a Sunday matinee in New York, where the home team has been dominant.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of this matchup, including a betting pick.
Lightning vs. Islanders Odds
|Time||2 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
As the NHL’s stretch drive to the playoffs intensifies, the schedule is getting busier than it has been all year.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders will both be on the second half of back-to-backs when they meet for a matinee at UBS Arena on Sunday.
It’s the second of three meetings this season between the clubs. Tampa Bay cruised to a 4-1 home win back on Nov. 15.
Here’s the latest on both teams, and your best bet for the game.
Lightning’s Offense in a Rut
The Lightning will be playing their fourth road game in six days on Sunday. They’re looking to head home with a .500 record after starting the trip with losses to Carolina and Boston, then eking out a 2-1 overtime win in Detroit on Saturday.
Uncharacteristically, the Lightning have lost six of their last nine games — their roughest patch all season. During that stretch, their normally reliable offense has averaged just 2.11 goals per game — second-worst in the league — and their power play has been clicking at an uninspiring 17.2%.
But some of this can be attributed to bad luck. A team shooting percentage of 5.77% at 5-on-5 during that stretch is strangely low for a team with snipers like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point. For the season, the Lightning are fifth-best in that category at 9.24%. At some point, there should be some regression to their more typical efficiency. But during this busy stretch of their schedule, especially with a lot of travel, fatigue could also factor in.
The Lightning were applauded for their smart pickups at the trade deadline — forwards Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul. So far, each player has one goal but has not been a significant difference-maker.
On the back end, Tampa Bay is now without veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh. He has been sidelined with an upper-body injury for an undetermined amount of time.
Brian Elliott got the win in net against the Red Wings on Saturday, so Andrei Vasilevskiy is expected to get the nod on Sunday. Though he’s on a personal three-game losing streak, the fault in those losses doesn’t rest with him. He’s at 24 goals saved above expected for the season, third-best in the league, and has given up a total of 10 goals in his last five games.
Islanders Playing Better During Busy Schedule
Despite the fact that they’re well outside a playoff spot, the New York Islanders have been getting good results lately. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, scoring an average of 3.6 goals a game while allowing just 2.1. And their power play has been on fire, clicking at 34.8%.
It’s Ilya Sorokin’s turn to start in net on Sunday. He has been excellent, with 8.9 goals saved above expected for the season and just nine goals allowed over his last six starts.
The Islanders are also in a busy part of their schedule. They’ll play their sixth game in nine days on Sunday after travelling home from Boston, where the Bruins lit up Semyon Varlamov by a 6-3 score. But they’ve been sticking closer to home — four of those games have been on home ice.
New York made no changes at the trade deadline. Foward Cal Clutterbuck is out for the rest of the season after shoulder surgery, and defenseman Scott Mayfield has a long-term lower-body injury.
Lightning vs. Islanders Pick
After the Islanders lost their first seven games in their new state-of-the-art home rink, UBS Arena has become quite unwelcoming to visiting teams. The home squad is now 17-12-4 for the season. The Islanders are currently riding a six-game home winning streak where they’ve outscored their opponents by a total of 28-9.
And while they got kicked hard in Boston on Saturday, this group isn’t letting losses snowball. The Islanders haven’t lost back-to-back games since the beginning of March.
Meanwhile, the Lightning had to come from behind to earn their overtime win against Detroit in Saturday — an effort that probably took more energy than they would have liked to expend. And they’ve only won back-to-back games twice this month, results that are well below par for them.
Sunday’s game marks the end of a stretch of 10 out of 11 games on the road for the Lightning. After facing the Islanders, they’ll head home to play 12 of their remaining 17 games in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena.
That’s when we can expect to see Tampa Bay start to return to championship form. Circumstances will make it very difficult for them to deliver a first-rate effort on Sunday.
In this situation, home-ice advantage should offer a significant boost for the Islanders. At plus-120, backing the home underdog offers solid value.
Pick: Islanders moneyline (+120); play down to +100