Teammates congratulate Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) after he scores a goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series, Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
- The Tampa Bay Lightning are -130 favorites to take a 2-0 lead over the Florida Panthers as their Stanley Cup Central Division semifinal continues on Tuesday, May 18th
- Tampa Bay won Game 1 by a 5-4 count
- Florida hasn’t won a playoff series since going to the 1996 Stanley Cup final
The Florida Panthers held an edge over the Tampa Bay Lightning during the regular season. Sunday, as the first-ever postseason series between the NHL’s two Florida-based teams, got underway, the Panthers discovered why the Lightning are reigning Stanley Cup champions.
The Panthers also learned that the playoffs are a completely different animal. Resilient Tampa Bay rallied from 2-1 and 4-3 deficits to post a 5-4 Game 1 road verdict.
Oddsmakers are anticipating the flow to continue in that direction. Tampa Bay is set as the -130 favorites to win on the road again in Game 2. The Lightning are 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games.
Lightning vs Panthers Game 2 Odds
|Player||Moneyline||Spread at DraftKings||Total|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-130||-1.5 (+188)||O 6.0 (-108)|
|Florida Panthers||+112||+1.5 (0240)||U 6.0 (-113)|
Odds as of May 17th
The puck will be dropping for Game 2 at 8 PM EST at the BB&T Center. CNBC is carrying the broadcast.
Lightning’s Stars Light It Up
When Tampa Bay was winning the Cup last year, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Victor Hedman were big reasons why this was so.
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Kucherov led the playoffs in assists (27) and points (34). Point (14) was the postseason’s leading goal scorer. Conn Smythe Trophy winner Hedman topped all defensemen with 22 points.
In Game 1 against the Panthers, Tampa Bay’s big guns were locked and loaded. Point scored twice, including a third-period breakaway goal that snapped the 4-4 tie. Kucherov, seeing his first action of the season, also scored a pair of goals. Hedman dished out three assists.
Kucherov missed the entire regular season following hip surgery. Was Game 1 adrenaline, or will he be this effective going forward? If this trio continues at that level of effectiveness, there’s not much hope of the Panthers hanging around the postseason for long.
Lightning vs Panthers Series Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-305|
Bennett to Sit Down
Florida lost Game 1 and the Panthers are also losing a player for Game 2. The NHL made the announcement Monday that it was issuing Florida forward Sam Bennett a one-game suspension.
Bennett was handed the sitdown by the NHL Department of Player Safety for his third-period charging penalty. Bennett ran Tampa Bay forward Blake Coleman from behind into the boards.
NEWS: Sam Bennett suspended one game for boarding #GoBolts Blake Coleman. #FlaPanthers #FearNoOne pic.twitter.com/LOVJjiX4iS
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) May 17, 2021
The rugged forward has been producing ever since arriving in Florida via a trade with the Calgary Flames. Bennett has collected 17 points in 11 games as a Panther. However, based on his Game 1 antics, Tampa Bay may miss Bennett as much as the Panthers.
He was in the penalty box for two of the Lightning’s three power-play goals. Bennett was off for holding Coleman when Kucherov tied it 2-2 in the second period. His charging foul on Coleman led to Point’s tally to make it 4-4. Bennett was also called for goalie interference, negating a Panthers goal.
Lightning vs Panthers Best Bet
Special teams provided a big edge for Tampa Bay in Game 1. The Lightning went 3-for-4 win the man advantage. They also canceled Florida’s only power-play marker with a shorthanded goal of their own.
Game 1 was just the fourth game in Stanley Cup history to feature four lead changes. Three of Tampa Bay’s last five wins at Florida were one-goal decisions.
Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are on a power play together for the first time since Feb. 25, 2020. #Bolts #TBLvsFLA
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) May 17, 2021
The Panthers have scored at least four goals on the Lightning in each of the last four games between the two teams. The five-goal outburst in Game 1 marked the first time in five games that Tampa Bay has scored more than three goals against Florida.
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, playing for the first time in 16 games due to a lower-body injury collected a pair of assists in Game 1. Making his Stanley Cup debut, Florida forward Owen Tippett scored one goal and figured in another. He’s the first Panthers rookie to score a playoff goal since 1997. Florida offers great value at +112 in the Lightning vs Panthers Game 2 odds.
Pick: Florida Panthers (+112)
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An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.