NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Kings (Jan. 18)

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Lightning vs. Kings (Jan. 18) article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov.

Lightning vs. Kings Odds

Lightning Odds-170
Kings Odds+140
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Los Angeles will look to bounce back after being embarrassed in an important divisional showdown Monday afternoon in San Jose, but it will be no easy task as they play host to the two-time defending champion Lightning on Tuesday.

Lightning in Rhythm With Kucherov

It's cup or bust yet again for the Bolts this year, who have the opportunity to post the league's first three-peat since the 1983 New York Islanders. With all of the key pieces from the previous two runs back and in dominant form yet again, another title run is very possible.

In five games since returning to the lineup, former Hart trophy winner Nikita Kucherov has posted nine points and improved the Lightning power play.

With the Lightning now skating the same five pieces that dominated during last year's playoff run with Kucherov back, expect them to among the best power play teams down the stretch. Kucherov's ridiculous half-wall play is the most crucial role in their dominance.

In the five games since Kucherov's return, the Lightning have gone 4-1-0 with four regulation wins, a 55.47 Expected Goals For %, and a +9 Goal Differential.

The organization's excellent ability to develop players in AHL Syracuse continues to prove valuable, as several pieces such as Ross Colton, Mathieu Joseph, and Taylor Raddysh have shown well this season. These three have also helped to replace the loss of the entire third line from last season and survive some of the team's notable injuries.

The Lightning have not confirmed whether or not they will look towards Andrei Vasilevskiy here, but having been off since Saturday and not playing again until Friday, I imagine they should likely look towards their #1 here. Vasilevskiy has been ridiculously good yet again, with a 16.6 Goals Saved Above Expected rating with a .924 Save % through 31 games played this season.

Kings Hoping to Bounce Back

While it was just one game, it was surprising to see the Kings be thoroughly embarrassed as they were Monday against a Sharks team that isn't notably strong.

But the Kings are due for some regression following their dominant results, and they are playing through somewhat of a high-water mark in a borderline playoff season.

They don't have a ton of scoring talent, and although I have liked their defensive game a lot of late, it's still hard to believe they are likely to be an above average club altogether this season — even more so in contests coming outside of the cozy Pacific Division. Los Angeles holds the league's 21st-highest offensive output at 2.82 Goals For Per Game, and it's unlikely this significantly improves this season.

With Jonathan Quick having played yesterday in San Jose, we should see backup Cal Petersen Tuesday. Petersen has produced some very average play this season, with a .906 Save % and a +2.5 Goals Saved Above Expected mark through a 14-game sample size.

Lightning vs. Kings Pick

Before yesterday's dreadful Kings loss, I already had this pegged as a good spot to back Tampa considering the spot and the edge they have over this Kings team.

The Lightning will control more of the run of play at 5-on-5 than the Kings are used to and should hold considerably better special teams play down the stretch. Furthermore, Tampa also holds a notable goaltending edge with Vasilevskiy over Petersen.

In these spots, Pacific Division teams are often overvalued, and I think we should see one of the Atlantic division powerhouses in the Lightning claim a big win as they strive to avoid a nightmare first round postseason matchup.

Tampa can win this matchup inside of regulation more often than a +100 line suggests with their advantages in scoring talent and goaltending.

Pick: Lightning 3-Way Moneyline (Regulation Win) +100

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