Panthers vs. Capitals Odds, Picks: Bet Florida to Win Big in Game 3
Joel Auerbach/Getty Images. Pictured: Claude Girouxx (#28) and Sergei Bobrovsky (#72)
- The Capitals are home underdogs on Saturday afternoon against the Panthers in Game 3.
- With the starting goaltender uncertain for the Capitals, can you trust them in this spot at home?
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and shares her best bet below.
Panthers vs. Capitals Game 3 Odds
|6.5 (-130 / +105)
|1 p.m. ET
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.
We're all tied up as the scene shifts to Washington in the first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series between the Capitals and Florida Panthers.
After a 4-2 upset win by the Capitals in Sunrise in Game 1, the Panthers looked more like their usual high-scoring, dominant selves in Game 2. They built off a two-goal first period to eventually secure a 5-1 win.
Game 3 is a Saturday afternoon affair at Capital One Arena. Here's the latest on both teams and your best bet for the game.
Panthers Looking to Build Off of Game 2
The Florida Panthers have gotten what they've wished for: they've become a strong, relevant NHL franchise and captured their first-ever Presidents' Trophy as the league's best regular-season team.
But with success comes pressure and high expectations for a long playoff run — on a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series since 1996.
That pressure may have muted the Cats' attack in their Game 1 loss to the Capitals. Two nights later, rookie head coach Andrew Brunette juggled his forward group a bit and swapped in Noel Acciari for Ryan Lomberg on the fourth line, and the Panthers got their swagger back.
The home side got goals from five different players — kicked off by a flukey bounce that was credited to defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was back in the lineup after missing the last month of the season with a lower-body injury.
After being outshot 38-32 in Game 1, Florida outshot Washington 36-27 in Game 2. For the series, the Panthers are carrying 56.52% of the overall shot attempts and the High-Danger Chances at five-on-five, and Sergei Bobrovsky is at a solid three Goals Saved Above Expected.
Two games into a hard-hitting series, the Panthers also remain healthy.
Their only noteworthy trouble spot is on special teams. After running the NHL's fifth-best Power Play during the regular season, the Panthers have yet to score with the man advantage across six opportunities. However, they have given up two goals to the Capitals while shorthanded.
Penalty calls usually drop off during the playoffs, but so far this year, the officials are calling games by the book. If practice makes perfect, it should be only a matter of time before Florida's special teams get back on track.
Who Starts in Net for the Capitals?
Coming into the series, goaltending was the big question mark for the Capitals. Neither Vitek Vanecek nor Ilya Samsonov had truly seized the starting job during the regular season.
Coach Peter Laviolette tapped Vanecek as his Game 1 starter and was rewarded with a win. However, Vanecek followed up with five Goals Against on 19 shots through 40 minutes on Thursday. Mason Marchment's second-period softie just 27 seconds after Nicklas Backstrom had narrowed Florida's lead to 2-1 was, arguably, the backbreaker for Washington.
Samsonov subbed in for the third period. He saw plenty of rubber as Florida outshot Washington 17-3 in the final frame, and he stopped everything he saw.
With the early start time on Saturday, Washington won't skate until game time, and Peter Laviolette has declined to name his starter in advance. In the small sample size to date, Vanecek is now at -3.1 Goals Saved Above Expected, while Samsonov is at +1.9 GSAx.
It's also unclear whether Tom Wilson will be available for the Caps in Game 3. An important playoff contributor for his intimidation factor as well as his offensive prowess, Wilson scored a Power-Play goal before leaving Game 1 with a lower-body injury after just three shifts.
Panthers vs. Capitals Pick
In the playoffs, much is made about home-ice advantage. And in the three-game regular-season series between Florida and Washington, the hosts won every game by one goal.
Washington's Game 1 win instantly upended that pattern, but perhaps we shouldn't have been too surprised. Though the Panthers have made FLA Live Arena a tough place for opponents to visit, the Capitals finished the regular season with a road record of 25-10-6, the best in the NHL.
But they also finished 22 points behind the Panthers in the standings — so it should be no surprise to learn that Washington had the worst home record of any team that made the playoffs, at 19-16-6.
Their goaltending conundrum and the possibility of another game without Tom Wilson leave the Capitals vulnerable on Saturday, especially if the Panthers settle in, play to their full potential and get their Power Play on track.
Looking at your betting options: Bobrovsky's strong play so far puts a question mark on the over while Washington's uncertain goaltending makes the under risky. And the oddsmakers also aren't worried about the Panthers on the road; they're big favorites on the moneyline.
The puck line is a bold play, but we've seen a high number of multi-goal wins in this year's playoffs so far. As the Panthers continue their march to the second round, look for them to beat Washington by at least two goals on Saturday.
Pick: Panthers -1.5 (+125); play down to +110