Lightning vs. Capitals NHL Picks and Odds Analysis

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Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals shoots against the New York Rangers on October 13, 2021. Patrick Smith/Getty Images/AFP

The most games possible in one NHL day now that there are 32 teams with the addition of expansion Seattle is obviously 16. There are 14 on the first Saturday of the new season

It’s the first of three regular-season meetings between the Lightning and Capitals with Tampa hosting Washington on Nov. 1 and then returning to D.C. on April 6. It’s possible they could meet in the playoffs but it could only be in the Eastern Conference Finals because the Bolts are in the Atlantic Division and the Caps in the Metropolitan. To win the Eastern Conference, the Lightning is +350 on the NHL futures odds at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks and the Capitals +1500. 

They were also in different divisions in the realigned 2021 shortened season so the teams didn’t play. In the 2019-20 regular season, Washington won all three matchups. The teams also played one game in the Stanley Cup qualifier round in the bubble on Aug. 3, 2020, and Tampa won that 3-2 in a shootout.  The favorite is 5-2 in the past seven meetings. So, with further ado, let’s get into the NHL odds for this game.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Washington Capitals 

Saturday, October 16, 2021 – 07:00 PM EDT at Capital One Arena

Lightning Very Uneven So Far 

Tampa Bay has not looked like the two-time defending Cup champion so far. The Bolts raised their title banner on Tuesday and were smoked 6-2 by Pittsburgh. Thursday might be the wildest game we will see all season as the Lightning trailed 6-3 midway through the third period at a bad Detroit team yet somehow won 7-6 in overtime.

The Lightning scored three goals in the final 6:17 of regulation to tie. Tampa hadn’t lost two in a row to open a season since 2009. 

The Lightning, who got four-point games from stars Nikita Kucherov (1 goal, 3 assists) and Victor Hedman (four assists), overcame a three-goal, third-period deficit to win a game for the third time in franchise history. The two other instances were Dec. 16, 1992 and Dec. 23, 2006. The third star, Steven Stamkos, had two goals and an assist – all on the power play. 

Great win, no doubt, but what’s going on with preseason Vezina Trophy betting favorite and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy? Just a Stanley Cup hangover? Thursday was the first time since Oct. 19, 2019, that Vasilevskiy allowed six goals in a game – he was only credited with allowing three in the first game as three Penguins goals were on an empty net.  

The Lightning gave up just 2.59 goals per game last season, the sixth-fewest in the NHL. It would not shock me if the Lightning go to backup goaltender Brian Elliott in this one.  

Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes against the Detroit Red Wings. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

Tampa Bay is 23-11 in its last 34 games after scoring five or more goals in its previous game.  

Ovechkin Continues to Amaze For Caps 

Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin was a game-time call for Wednesday’s season opener against the visiting New York Rangers with a lower-body injury, but the Russian not only played but dominated with two goals (one on the power play, one short-handed) and two assists in a 5-1 victory.  

Ovechkin passed Marcel Dionne for the fifth-most goals scored all-time and now has 732. Next on the list is Brett Hull and 741, so that’s a done deal this year. So is No. 3 Jaromir Jagr at 766 barring Ovechkin gets injured. Gordie Howe sits second at 801 and then Wayne Gretzky on top at 894. Ovechkin would have to finish out his five-year contract and stay healthy to catch the Great One

There’s more on the brilliance of the "Great 8": Ovechkin became the fourth player in NHL history to record at least 150 career multi-goal games, joining Gretzky (189), Hull (158) and Mario Lemieux (154). Finally, Ovi now has 502 points on the power play, joining Joe Thornton (545 points) as the second active player to record 500 points on the power play and within four of tying Dave Andreychuk (274) for the most power-play goals in NHL history

In his NHL debut, 19-year-old rookie Hendrix Lapierre added a goal. TJ Oshie and Justin Schultz also scored. Anytime a team scores three times on the power play and once shorthanded as the Caps did, that team is winning. Evgeny Kuznetsov registered three assists after just two three-point games last season.

The Pick

Vitek Vanecek stopped 23 of 24 shots Wednesday, but it may be Ilya Samsonov here as those two are basically in a timeshare. Arguably Washington’s second-best offensive player, center Nicklas Backstrom, is on long-term injured reserve with a hip injury. That means he will miss at least 10 games after leading Washington with 53 points last regular season. 

The Capitals are 20-9 in their past 29 following a win and given Tampa Bay's start to the season, Washington should be the right NHL pick in this one.

NHL pick: Capitals ML (+111) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Capitals ML (+111)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.