Panthers vs. Lightning Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 4 Free Picks

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Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save against the Florida Panthers during the third period in Game Three. Mike Carlson/Getty Images/AFP

The season is on the line for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Florida Panthers on Monday as they are down 3-0 in their NHL Eastern Conference playoff series against Tampa Bay, which is favored at home to end it. Which way to lean at BMR’s top-rated sportsbooks and betting sites?  

Florida Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Monday, May 23, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Amalie Arena 

NHL Eastern Conference Playoff Series Highlights

The Panthers set a franchise record in points this regular season with 122 yet are on the precipice of being swept out of the playoffs Monday by the rival Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Bolts of course are two-time Stanley Cup champions. The last season they didn’t win it? When they won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2018-19 and were shockingly swept in the first round of the ’19 playoffs by the Columbus Blue Jackets in maybe the biggest upset in league history. 

Do you believe in curses? For the most part, I don’t, but man the Presidents’ Trophy curse seems real.

Of course, that trophy goes to the team with the best record in the NHL during the regular season and you’d think that Presidents’ Trophy winners would win the Stanley Cup fairly often with a home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Yet it rarely happens – only eight times overall and not since the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. 

Stanley Cup Updated NHL Odds

On the updated series line at BMR’s top-rated books, Tampa Bay is -1800 with Florida at +900. To win the Cup, the Lightning are now +310 second favorites with Florida at +3000. 

The Lightning have won 21 of the past 29 at home against the Panthers. 

Panthers vs. Lightning Performance Recap

We get something rather unusual Monday in that it’s the second of a back-to-back between these teams. Normally, teams don’t play back-to-back days in the postseason, but for TV reasons Game 3 was played Sunday instead of Saturday and now they turn right back around and do it again from Tampa. 

The old adage is that defense wins championships, and that sure looks true in this series. Florida led the NHL by a mile in the regular season in scoring at 4.11 goals per game (best by any team in nearly three decades) but has scored exactly one goal in each game of this series following Sunday’s 5-1 loss.

The Panthers were never shut out in the regular season and managed one goal just three times. 

Florida did put a solid 35 shots on net and won 55.4 percent of its faceoffs Sunday. Shoot, the Panthers even scored their first power-play goal of these playoffs as Sam Reinhart tied it 1-1 at 16:07 of the first but that was obviously it scoring-wise.  

Sunday was Florida’s ninth game of these playoffs and only two teams since goals by type were officially tracked in 1933-34 scored their first power-play goal deeper into a playoff year: Toronto 11 games into the 1942 playoffs and Boston 10 games into the 2011 postseason.

Both those teams won the Cup. Florida isn’t doing that. Only four teams in NHL history have come back to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0. 

Game 4: NHL Odds

If this were the regular season, the Panthers likely wouldn’t start Sergei Bobrovsky in net for a second straight day but I can’t imagine that interim coach Andrew Brunette would turn to Spencer Knight on Monday. Brunette probably won’t get the full-time job if his team is swept even though he was named a Jack Adams Award finalist as NHL regular-season coach of the year.  

“They have more will and more desire than we do," Brunette said. "We're a good team when (our) backs are against the wall, and it looks bleak. Hopefully, we can find some energy and some passion and some joy." 

The Panthers are 2-10 on the NHL odds in their past 12 as underdogs. They are 0-2 all-time in a best-of-seven series when trailing 3-0.  

Tampa Bay Lineup Analysis

The Lightning are 4-0 all-time when leading a best-of-seven series 3-0. Corey Perry (fifth of these playoffs), Erik Cernak (first), Steven Stamkos (third and fourth) and Nikita Kucherov (fourth) had the goals Sunday. Kucherov added three assists and was the No. 2 star.  

It was Perry’s 50th career playoff goal, the sixth active player to reach that mark. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin leads with 72. His Capitals lost in Round 1 to Florida. Perry, in his first season with the Lightning, has a goal in three straight games.

Only two players in NHL history have recorded a longer run in the postseason at age 37 or older: Teemu Selanne with four in 2011 and Brendan Shanahan with four in 2007. As for Kucherov, it was his 41st career multi-point playoff game, third-best among active players.  

Reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy was the deserved No. 1 star with 34 saves. He has won five straight games, one shy of his career-high playoff streak set in 2020. Simply put, Vasilevskiy is that much better than anyone Florida can put in the net.  

“We’ve won a couple of games and we’re still alive in the series but the series isn’t over,” coach Jon Cooper said. “Until you start checking off that fourth win, there’s nothing to hang our hat on. We’re inching our way closer but it is far from over.” 

A defending Stanley Cup champion has swept the Presidents’ Trophy winner in the playoffs just once since 1986: Edmonton beat Calgary in 1988 on the way to the first of four straight Stanley Cups for the Oilers. 

Game 4: Panthers vs. Lightning Betting Pick

Tampa Bay has ripped Florida’s heart out at this point. The Lightning end things Monday and rest up for the Hurricanes or Rangers in the East Finals. Tampa is 20-8 in its past 28 as a favorite. For the above reasons, invest in the Lightning for your NHL picks.

NHL Pick: Tampa Bay ML (-123) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Tampa Bay ML (-123)
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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.