The New York Islanders had some designs on getting a little payback against the Tampa Bay Lightning for the painful six-game playoff defeat the suffered last season. And head coach Barry Stotz felt that the bubble had something to do with last year's defeat; he believed that a rowdy, raucous crowd at the Nassau Coliseum would make a big difference.
The Islanders won 21 of 28 games at home this season, outscoring opponents by 40 goals. In the playoffs, however, they are just 4-3 at the Coliseum. Now is the time for them to walk the walk, and they can pretty much kiss their chances goodbye if they don't deliver on Saturday night in a Game 4 where they can even the series up at two games apiece.
They get underway at 8:05 PM ET, and at BetOnline, here are the money line, puck line and total in the Stanley Cup playoff betting odds:
Tampa Bay Lightning -124
New York Islanders +112
Lightning -1.5 Goals (+205)
Islanders +1.5 Goals (-245)
Over 5 Goals -120
Under 5 Goals +109
Andrei Vasilevskiy has been nothing short of outstanding in goal for the Lightning; his save percentage of .935 thus far is the best he's ever posted in the playoffs, or any individual season.
And it's not as if he isn't facing many shots; the Islanders and Bolts have registered about the same number of shots. Stotz is reportedly unhappy with the output of his first two lines, and that would include Mat Barzal, who's got eight shots and two goals, and Anthony Beauvillier, who has had seven shots on goal and has yet to score a point.
For Tampa Bay, Brayden Point has scored three goals in three games, and that includes the ultimate game-winner in Game 3.
An interesting stat line is that of Nikita Kucherov, who was the subject of much controversy entering the series. Kucherov spent the season on the injured list and did not count against the salary cap, then appeared in time for the playoffs. He has been a main cog for this club. Even though the Islanders have held him to just three shots (without a goal), he has assisted on five of the seven goals Tampa Bay has scored.
Clearly it's tough to get on the board when these teams meet. In fact, I was rather surprised to find that in five of the last nine games these teams have played against each other - which are all playoff games - have ended in 2-1 final scores.
Semyon Varlamov has not been as glittering as Vasilevskiy in goal, but his numbers have been good enough to win on most nights. He's got a 2.33 GAA and .916 save percentage, and to begin with this team has had a "defense-first" culture since Trotz took the reins after winning the Cup in Washington.
Another interesting factoid - Tampa Bay has been doing what a Stanley Cup aspirant needs to do, which is winning on the road. They have not only won four consecutive road games in these playoffs, they have allowed a total of only three goals in that time.
So are we going that far out on a limb laying -120 on the UNDER in this game? We don't think so.
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