Role players like Barclay Goodrow have played a key offensive role as the Tampa Bay Lightning have gained the upper hand in their first-round playoff series with the feisty Columbus Blue Jackets.
Photo by @lightning_fanly (Twitter).
- Tampa Bay escaped with a narrow 2-1 win over Columbus on Monday to take a 3-1 series lead into Wednesday’s Game 5 (Aug. 19, 12:00 pm ET)
- The Lightning are heavy betting favorites to avenge last year’s sweep at the hands of the Blue Jackets in Game 5
- The odds do not reflect how tight each game of the series has been
The Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to punch their ticket to the second round of the 2020 NHL playoffs when they hit the ice at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday afternoon (noon ET, Aug. 19) for Game 5 of their first-round series with Columbus as -182 favorites in the Blue Jackets vs Lightning odds.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Tampa Bay Lightning Odds – August 19
|Columbus Blue Jackets||-186||-1.5 (+155)||O 5.0 (-114)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+160||+1.5 (-186)||U 5.0 (-107)|
Odds as of Aug. 17, 2020. All odds include overtime
Narrow Victory Pushes Blue Jackets to Brink of Elimination
The Lightning held off a spirited early attack from the Blue Jackets in Game 4 on Wednesday to eke out a narrow 2-1 victory, taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.
With the win, Tampa Bay is now on the verge of redeeming itself for its stunning playoff loss to Columbus last year, when they were swept by the upstart Blue Jackets in the opening round after closing out the regular season with the best record in the NHL.
Pierre-Luc Dubois passes to Zach Werenski, who backhands a shot on Andrei Vasilevskiy, and Oliver Bjorkstrand taps the rebound in to get the #BlueJackets ahead of the #TBLightning 1-0!
Nvm it’s offside pic.twitter.com/6EI0CVtxOy
— Matthew Henriques (@CorsiHockey) August 17, 2020
Gaining the upper hand on the Blue Jackets has been anything but easy. Pegged as -186 favorites entering Game 4, Tampa Bay avoided falling behind early in Wednesday’s contest when an Oliver Bjorkstrand goal was called back after a successful coach’s challenge. However, the Lightning were far from dominant, getting outshot by an 11-7 margin in the opening frame.
In addition to allowing the Blue Jackets to dictate the pace early on, the Lightning once again needed role players to step up and provide the offense, with Barclay Goodrow and Yanni Gourde each picking up a goal and an assist. Indeed, considering the Lightning’s underwhelming offensive performance so far in the postseason, they should consider themselves fortunate to have a 3-1 lead.
Goals Few and Far Between
Overall, Tampa Bay has mustered just nine total goals through the first four games of this series, and a meagre 2.29 goals per game through the first seven postseason outings (including the round robin). The lack of production extends the worrisome trend the club established late in the season, which they closed out by scoring just three goals per game over their final ten before the coronavirus hiatus.
🎥 Coop on being responsible with the puck, killing off the 5-on-3, and depth scoring. #TBLvsCBJ pic.twitter.com/oVXcalCtJg
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) August 16, 2020
That trend has provided steady returns for wily sports bettors taking the UNDER in Tampa games, which has gone 6-0-1 so far in the Lightning’s seven playoff dates, and 9-2-1 in their past 13 overall.
Despite those concerns, the Lightning have now emerged as massive favorites to eventually knock off the Blue Jackets. The club continued its meteoric rise in the playoff series prices in the wake of Wednesday’s win; they are now massive -5000 chalk to win the best-of-seven.
Blue Jackets Gain Confidence in Losing Effort
While Wednesday’s loss is a major setback, it is difficult to count out the Blue Jackets, who are +156 underdogs in Game 5. Despite trailing in the series, the Blue Jackets have steadily gained confidence as this series has progressed. Emboldened by the steady play of goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus outshot the Lightning for the first time in the series on Monday, and were simply dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 71.4% of the draws.
2nd period in the books and #CBJ trail 2-1. Jackets outshot Tampa Bay 10-8 in the period and lead 21-15 in the game.
— CBJ Public Relations (@BlueJacketsPR) August 17, 2020
The Columbus penalty kill also continued to shine, killing off a trio of infractions. The Jackets have yet to surrender a power-play goal in this series. The emergence of Zach Werenski and Seth Jones as bona fide stud defencemen also continued, with the duo once again leading skaters on both teams in ice time by a wide margin and playing key roles in all situations.
Don’t Count Out Columbus Just Yet
The Blue Jackets have a mountain to climb if they are to stave off elimination. Fresh off their first consecutive losses of the postseason, this team could go either way: the could slip into the malaise that resulted in losing 12 of their final 15 regular-season games or they could redouble their efforts in Game 5.
This is what you should now expect with Joonas Korpisalo. 😳 #StanleyCup
🇺🇸: https://t.co/zopcHGlaBr @NHLonNBCSports
🇨🇦: https://t.co/eVCyWTbCNm @Sportsnet pic.twitter.com/b4yi2HJimD
— NHL (@NHL) August 17, 2020
With the usually offense-first Lightning struggling to score, the Blue Jackets are an extremely attractive value bet to extend this series with a win in what promises to be another closely fought affair.
Picks: Columbus Blue Jackets to win (+156); UNDER 5.0 (-106)
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.