2018 Playoffs Preview: Lightning at Capitals NHL Odds & Game 4 Pick
Has there even been a seven-game Stanley Cup playoff series where the road team won every single game? I couldn’t find existence of one, but entering Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Lightning and Capitals, the road team is 3-0. The Caps are slight favorites on the NHL odds to win in D.C. on Thursday.
How to Bet Lightning at Capitals NHL Odds & Game 4 Info
When: Thursday, 8 PM ET
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV: NBC Sports Network
Radio: 970 AM (Tampa Bay) / 106.7 FM (Washington)
Opening NHL Odds: Capitals -115, Lightning +105 (6)
Why Bet on Tampa Bay’s NHL Odds?
The Bolts played with much more urgency in Game 3 and won it 4-2. Victor Hedman scored a goal and two assists in the win. It took 13 games, but the Bolts defenseman finally has a goal in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His tally gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead at the 3:37 mark of the second frame. He also registered the primary helpers on power-play goals by Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov. Hedman finished the night with a minus-1 rating, two shots on goal and two blocked shots in 25:08 of ice time. He’s now riding an eight-game point streak. The 27-year-old is up to 11 points in 13 games this postseason.
Hedman’s eight-game points streak is tied for the longest in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs (with Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel). It marks just the 15th time in NHL history that a defenseman has recorded a point streak of eight-plus games in the postseason and first since Pittsburgh’s Larry Murphy had a nine-game run in 1995 (2-13—15 in 9 GP).
Stamkos picked up a goal and an assist. Stamkos opened the scoring at the 13:53 mark of the first period when he blew a one-timer on the power play past Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He also registered an assist on Nikita Kucherov’s power-play tally in the second frame to make it 2-0 for the Bolts. Stamkos finished the game with a plus-1 rating, two penalty minutes, one shot on goal and one hit in 16:54 of ice time. He’s up to six goals and nine assists in 13 games this postseason. Stamkos – who scored for the third consecutive game – extended his point streak to six contests (5-4—9). He notched his 10th career power-play goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs (all w/ TBL) to move into a tie with Martin St. Louis for the most in franchise history.
Kucherov picked up a goal and an assist as well. Kucherov finished the game with an even rating and a team-high six shots on goal in 16:20 of ice time. He’s now picked up six points during his five-game point streak. Kucherov has seven goals and 16 points in 13 games this postseason. Kucherov leads all players with 29 postseason goals since making his NHL debut in 2013-14.
Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside 36 of 38 shots. The Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period before Brett Connolly finally got the Capitals on the board. Vasilevskiy then helped the Lightning kill off a big penalty to preserve their two-goal lead. The 23-year-old has a 9-4 record with a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .915 save percentage this postseason. This was also the first time in this series that he allowed fewer than four goals in a game. The Russian is 4-1 on the road (1.99 GAA, .940 SV) in these playoffs. He led all goaltenders with 18 road wins in the 2017-18 regular season.
Why Bet on Washington’s NHL Odds?
Washington’s loss assured there will be no sweep in the conference finals. There playoffs since the bracket format was introduced in 2014 (7 of 74 series; 9.5%), with none occurring beyond the second round. The previous five-year stretch saw 11 of 75 series end in sweeps (14.7%).
Evgeny Kuznetsov found the back of the net in Tuesday’s loss. Kuznetsov cut the Capitals’ deficit to 4-2 late in the third period when he beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy from a sharp angle. The goal allowed the Capitals forward to extend his personal point streak to six games. He finished the night with a plus-1 rating, two penalty minutes and 12 shots on goal in 24:52 of ice time. The 25-year-old is up to nine goals and 20 points in 15 playoff games.
Brett Connolly scored his fourth goal of the postseason in the defeat. Connolly got Washington the board at the 10:31 mark of the second period after the Lightning established a 3-0 lead. He has picked up a point in three straight games.
Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 23 shots. It’s the first time in four games that Holtby allowed an opponent to score more than twice. The loss puts an end to his four-game winning streak. The 28-year-old owns a 10-4 record with a 2.18 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage during the postseason.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was not in the lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, missing his fourth straight game with a right hand injury. Backstrom blocked a shot by Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz in Game 5 of their semifinal series and has worn a brace on his hand since then. Backstrom did take part in Wednesday’s practice, though. It appeared to be shooting more and he had more zip with the puck, so progress is being made. Coach Barry Trotz said he wouldn’t have a problem if Backstrom played and couldn’t take many faceoffs.
Latest NHL Betting Trends
- Tampa Bay is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 games
- Tampa Bay is 5-2 SU in the last 7 games
- The total went OVER in 15 of Tampa Bay’s last 23 games when playing Washington
- Washington is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 games
- Washington is 4-1 SU in the last 5 games
- The total went OVER in 6 of Washington’s last 9 games at home
Expert NHL Betting Prediction
My lean was to the Lightning and the over in Game 3 (the total pushed) and I’ll stick with that in Game 4.