The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate a goal

The Tampa Bay Lightning have a 2-0 series lead over the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference final. Photo from @NHL (Twitter)

  • The Tampa Bay Lightning lead the New York Islanders 2-0 in the Eastern Conference final
  • Game 3 takes place on Friday, Sep. 11th, at 8:00 pm ET
  • Nikita Kucherov scored the game-winner with nine seconds to play in Game 2

The Tampa Bay Lightning have momentum and a 2-0 series lead over the New York Islanders heading into Game 3 this Friday (8:00 pm ET).

Lightning vs Islanders Game 3 Odds

Team Puck Line Over/Under Moneyline at DraftKings
Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (+175) O 5 (-125) -150
New York Islanders +1.5 (-215) U 5 (+104) +130

Odds taken Sep. 10th

Nikita Kucherov scored the game-winning goal with nine seconds left in Game 2. Instead of a thrilling overtime that could have evened the series, Tampa Bay has a big edge and New York is left to figure out how it all happened. What does this mean when checking out the Lightning vs Islanders odds for Game 3?

Let’s explore the series through the lens of two key players.

Nikita Kucherov Is Unstoppable Right Now

Remember when Connor McDavid was the best player in the world earlier in the playoffs? Then Nathan MacKinnon took the title? Well, now it’s Kucherov’s turn. Don’t be surprised; he won the league MVP last season, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Tonight’s game-winner was fantastic but it was just the cherry on top of another incredible performance.

Kucherov tallied three shots, four hits, and 22:25 of ice time which was second-highest on the team behind only Victor Hedman. He now has 34 career playoff goals, which is a franchise record.

He puts his stamp on the game in so many different ways. On a night that saw him miss three early opportunities, he was still in the perfect position when it mattered most. Quite frankly, I’d be afraid to wager against the man at this point in time. He’s that good.

Mathew Barzal Has Been a Non-Factor So Far

While Kucherov continues to rack up goals and points, the Islanders haven’t received the same output from their best offensive player. Mathew Barzal led the team with 60 points in the regular season yet has only five goals in 18 games since the return to play. In this series, he’s only managed one assist and a -3 rating.

New York is short on talent at the best of times and, if their biggest star continues to struggle, this series will end quickly.

The issue here is Barzal may not be able to lift his game. I don’t believe this is the case of a player shrinking when the moment gets too big. He is playing the majority of his minutes against the best defenseman in the game in Hedman. He isn’t creating offense because his team isn’t possessing the puck for long periods of time. There is only so much he can do and, while he is a talented player, he may not be one of the few elite talents in the league capable of combating the great Lightning defense.

Bet Tampa Bay With Confidence In Game 3

The only question you need to ask yourself is moneyline or puckline? I expect the Lightning to continue cruising in this series. Kucherov is a man on a mission, Hedman is contributing at both ends of the ice, and when all else fails Andrei Vasilevskiy has things covered in net.

With the lack of travel in the NHL bubble, momentum could be a big factor. There’s no long plane ride or trip home to help clear the mind. The Islanders had their hearts broken in Game 2  and there’s a good chance they will fade by Friday night.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning -1.5 (+175)

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