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NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Sabres vs. Lightning (February 23)

NHL Odds, Expert Pick, Prediction: Sabres vs. Lightning (February 23) article feature image

Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Buffalo Sabres as part of Thursday night's NHL slate.
  • Our expert feels there's value on the total in this matchup and he details his pick below.
  • Continue reading for Tony Sartori's best bet.

Sabres vs. Lightning Odds

Sabres Odds +195
Lightning Odds -235
Over/Under 6.5 (-137/+115)
Time 7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

To kick off Thursday’s slate, there is an Atlantic Division tilt with the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the sixth-place Buffalo Sabres.

High-scoring affairs are typically in order when these two teams clash, with seven or more goals scored in six of the last eight meetings.

Here’s a look at the odds, as well as our betting pick and prediction for Sabres vs. Lightning.

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Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres enter this contest amidst a flurry of high-scoring contests, with seven or more goals scored in four of their last five games. Their combination of strong offensive play and poor defense is why this trend exists and should continue moving forward.

At 5-on-5, Buffalo ranks in the top half of the league in expected goals for per 60 minutes (xGF/60). Offensively, the club is extremely deep — five players have posted north of 20 goals on the campaign.

Defensively, however, the Sabres struggle. They rank 23rd in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at 5-on-5. Backing up the defense is goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who occasionally displays signs of brilliance, but has struggled for the most part this season.

Through 24 starts in the crease, Luukkonen possesses a .893 save percentage (SV%) and 3.55 goals against average (GAA). Based on his metrics, positive regression is unlikely as he ranks 25th among starting goaltenders in goals saved above expected per 60 minutes (GSAx/60) at 5-on-5.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Like Buffalo, the Lightning enter this contest amidst a stretch of high-scoring contests — there have been seven or more total goals scored in six of their last nine games. The main component of this trend is Tampa’s dynamite offense.

At 5-on-5, the Bolts rank sixth in xGF/60. However, Tampa’s thin blue line has made goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy work harder than previous years.

Entering this matchup, the Lightning rank just 19th in xGA/60 at 5-on-5. While Vasilevskiy is typically a tough goaltender to take an over on, he possesses a .906 SV% across his last six starts against the Sabres, a figure he likely would not be proud of considering his standards.

Sabres vs. Lightning Pick

Luukkonen’s struggles in net this season should continue against the Bolts. In two career starts against Tampa, Luukkonen is 0-1-1 with a troubling .765 SV% and 5.80 GAA.

There were at least seven goals scored in each of those two outings. With two fast-paced, elite offenses and two below-average defenses, goals should not be difficult to come by.

While Vasilevskiy is the main concern for the over, as long as the Bolts score four or more, it should hit. Most markets outside of BetRivers do not offer the total at 6.5 at the time of writing, but I would only play this total at that number.

Pick: Over 6.5 (-137) | Play up to -145

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