NHL Betting: Underdog Lightning Strikes Again
If the Tampa Bay Lightning needed any “bulletin-board material” going into Game 5 of their Eastern Conference final versus the New York Rangers, all they needed to do was look at the Stanley Cup futures market. Even though both conference finals were tied at two games apiece, the Lightning were at the bottom of the odds list at +450, well behind the Rangers (+200), Chicago Blackhawks (+225) and Anaheim Ducks (+250).
The last became the first as Tampa Bay blanked the Rangers 2-0 on Sunday, cashing in as +135 road dogs on the closing line to take the 3-2 lead in this epic series. The Bolts can stamp their tickets to the Stanley Cup Finals with a win on Tuesday (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Meanwhile, they’ll enjoy being the Cup favorites for at least one day – until someone wins Game 5 of the Western final between the Hawks and Ducks.
Sunday’s low-scoring affair was a return to normalcy for the Rangers, who took a 10-2-1 UNDER record into Game 2 of the Eastern final before things started going crazy. Both netminders have had their troubles; reporters questioned whether New York’s Henrik Lundqvist should be benched after he gave up six goals in back-to-back games, then they asked the same question about Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop.
Now the big question is how the Rangers are going to stop Steven Stamkos. Tampa’s top scorer during the regular season (43 goals, 29 assists, 10.1 Point Shares) was held without a goal over the first eight playoff games, but Stamkos has beaten Lundqvist in each of the last four games of the Eastern final. Those goals have the underdog Lightning up 6.32 betting units with a record of 11-7 against the puck line, while the Rangers are seven units in the red at 5-12 ATS.
Gone in 37 Seconds
The Western final saw its first high-scoring game on Saturday, when the Blackhawks beat the Ducks 5-4 in double overtime as –149 home faves. Anaheim exploded for three third-period goals in just 37 seconds to take the 4-3 lead, but the Hawks would not be denied on this night. They’ve become the first team in NHL history to win four multiple-overtime games in the same postseason.
Chances are we’ll see the Anaheim get its revenge Monday night in Game 5 (9:00 p.m. NBCSN). The odds at press time have the Ducks favored by –130 on the moneyline; if they can win by at least two goals, they’ll pay out at +225 on the puck line. Winning by just one goal was Anaheim’s thing during the regular season; however, the Ducks lead all 16 playoff teams at plus-9.92 units on a very impressive 9-4 ATS record. The OVER is 7-4-2 in those 13 games, but if this series returns to normalcy as well on Monday, the UNDER will look like a bargain in retrospect at +110 on the standard total of five goals.