Tampa Bay Lightning (-110) at New York Islanders (-110, 5 o/u)
With 38 seconds to go in Game 3, the New York Islanders (5-3-1) found themselves poised to take a 2-1 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning (6-2-0). But Nikita Kucherov’s late goal sent the game to OT, where Brian Boyle completed the comeback. The Islanders now face a de facto must-win in Game 4 tomorrow at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (7:00 PM Eastern).
Neither team played much defense in Game 3. Tampa surrendered 39 shots on net, while the Islanders gave up 41. It wasn’t your traditional, tight-checking “playoff hockey.”
But the animosity that’s building up is certainly worthy of the NHL’s post-season. NY D-man Thomas Hickey briefly knocked Tampa forward from the game with devastating (and legal) hit. Boyle responded with what many feel was a head-shot to Hickey in OT, shortly before he potted the game-winner. The play went uncalled on the ice, leaving Islander coach Jack Capuano furious.
“It’s a direct shot to the head,” Capuano told Associated Press. “I mean, probably going to get suspended a game. That’s what I mean. The whole game, it shouldn’t come down to that. [Referee] is standing right there. I’ve watched it numerous times now. Those are the types of hits that we’re trying to eliminate from our game.”
The league just announced that Boyle will not have a hearing for the hit, indicating that no suspension will follow.
The teams have split their last ten head-to-head meetings. The better bet tonight looks like the over. Six of the last ten have gone over the total, while another two have pushed. Given how Swiss-cheesy both defenses looked in Game 3, and how potent both offenses have been most of the year, expect more than five goals once again.
Pick: OVER (5).
(Photo Credit: Robert Kowal (Flickr: John Tavares) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.)