Tampa Bay Lightning (+125) at Nashville Predators (-138, 5.5 o/u)
The best in the west will host the beasts of the east tonight as the Nashville Predators (35-12-6) welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning (34-16-5) to Bridgestone Arena (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
The Lightning lead the Eastern Conference with 73 points, and they have won six of their last eight games. Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, and company have had the offense firing on all cylinders for most of the season, and Tampa currently leads the league with 179 goals for (3.2 goals per game).
On Saturday, the Lightning suffered a rare home loss to the LA Kings (4-2). But they bounced back against another Western Conference power on Sunday, downing the Anaheim Ducks (5-3).
Head coach John Cooper liked the way his team responded after the loss.
“To turn that around 24 hours later, especially against a team that was waiting for us in our own town [sic] coupled with the fact they’re the No. 1 point team in the league, that’s a big effort by the boys. I don’t know if proud’s a big enough word. Everybody showed up.”
The Nashville Predators, meanwhile, lead the Western Conference with 76 points and have four wins in their last five games.
Unlike Tampa, the Preds rely on a stingy defense to pick up wins. Nashville has allowed just 127 goals against this year (fourth-best in the league), and goalie Pekka Rinne – who recently returned from a knee injury – is an early favorite for the Vezina Trophy and serious contender for league MVP.
Nashville is -138 in the money line and Tampa is +125, while the over/under is at 5.5 goals. The home team has won the last three games in the series, and three of the last four contests have gone OVER the game total.
Both teams will be playing their third game in four nights. Look for the Lightning, who had to travel, to be the more tired team and for Nashville to squeak out a W.
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)