Will Tampa Bay superstar Steven Stamkos and goalie Ben Bishop, a Vezina Trophy candidate, ride to the rescue for the Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night? The Lightning are down 2-1 and face a near must-win at home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. But the Pens are favored in online betting.
A Look at the Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay NHL Playoffs Betting Pick Game 4 & TV Info
When: Friday, May 20, 8 PM ET
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
TV: NBC Sports Network
Opening NHL Lines: Penguins -140, Lightning +127 (5)
Penguins at Lightning Historic Betting Trends
Pittsburgh lost Game 1 3-1 at home, but then took Game 2 3-2 in overtime on a Sidney Crosby overtime goal. Then on Wednesday, the Penguins played easily their best game of the series in a 4-2 win at Tampa. Crosby, Phil Kessel and Chris Kunitz scored third-period goals. Carl Hagelin snapped a scoreless tie late in the second period and Matt Murray had 26 saves for the Penguins.
Kessel now has 16 points in 14 playoff games and is making a run at the Conn Smythe Trophy as top player in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Wednesday, he scored his seventh goal of the postseason at 5:16 of the third period to give the Pens a 2-0 lead. He posted his ninth assist on the Pens’ first goal, scored by Hagelin with only 10 seconds left in the first period. Meanwhile, Murray’s postseason record is now 9-3. He’s sporting a 2.13 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.
The news wasn’t all good in Game 3 for Pittsburgh. Winger Patric Hornqvist suffered a hand injury blocking a shot in the third period and did not return. He was hurt with 7:10 left in the game as he blocked an Alex Killorn shot. Hornqvist has six goals and nine points in 14 playoff games this season so any missed time will hurt the Penguins.
“I don’t have definitive status on him,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. “He did leave the bench. We’ll probably know more [Thursday].”
Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat scored for the Lightning. The defending Eastern Conference champions were outshot 48-28, including 38-16 over the last two periods. Nikita Kucherov assisted on both Tampa Bay goals. Kucherov, one of the Lightning’s top offensive players, has not scored in this series and didn’t pick up any points until Wednesday.
Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the “Triplets” line of Johnson, Kucherov and Palat during the third period of Game 3. But it was too little, too late. Cooper wasn’t ready to say that he would keep the trio together.
Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, filling in for first-stringer Ben Bishop (lower-body injury), was impressive despite the loss. Vasilevskiy made 44 saves against the Pens. He is 1-2 in the playoffs but he’s played better than his record. He stopped 38 shots against Pittsburgh in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pens on Monday. His goals-against average is now 2.45 in the postseason. His save percentage is .935. If Bishop is ready to play in Game 4 in Tampa on Friday, Vasilevskiy will return to the bench.
Bishop took another step closer to a return, working out on the ice in full gear before Wednesday’s morning skate. Cooper is hopeful the Vezina Trophy finalist will join the team for practice Thursday and come back in the series. Bishop fell awkwardly in his crease and was taken off the ice on a stretcher midway through the first period of Game 1 on Friday. X-rays came back negative.
Stamkos, who has been out for weeks with a blood clot issue, has been skating most every day with the team, including optionals. Plus, he had said they were getting closer to making a decision on if he’s playing in playoffs or not.
Expert Betting Prediction
I would wait to place your online bet for this game on Bishop’s status. I’d take the Lightning as home dogs if he returns. Obviously Stamkos finally returning would help too. But otherwise, go Pittsburgh.