The Stars are hanging by a thread in the Central Division and will look to snap their four-game losing streak on Wednesday night as they prepare for the first of two with the Lightning in Dallas. Let’s analyze this divisional matchup and keep cashing our NHL picks.
Dallas Stars vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Wednesday, May 5, 2021 – 7:00 PM ET at Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
Dallas is flatlining hard and if they drop the next two games against Tampa Bay, the plug will be pulled on their season. Entering Wednesday night, the Stars are desperately trying to catch the Predators for the fourth and final spot in the Central Division, currently trailing Nashville by four points with a game in hand.
After having won six of seven, the Stars have lost four straight but the last two setbacks have been of the overtime variety, which makes the losses even more excruciating. On Saturday, the Stars dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to the Predators when Dallas goalie, Anton Khudobin, turned aside 33 of 34 shots but was outdueled by Nashville’s Juuse Saros who stoned Dallas and their 28 shots.
Two nights later, the Stars would continue their third of a seven-game road swing to end the season when they fell, 5-4, to the Florida Panthers in overtime. The Panthers notched a power-play goal to seal the deal while Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson, Joel Kiviranta, and Tyler Seguin all tallied for Dallas. Seguin, as many of you know, has been out all season with a torn labrum and his first return to action saw him net a goal in over 17 minutes of ice time in Monday’s game.
Lightning Strikes Down the Stretch
The defending Stanley Cup champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, find themselves in third place in the Central Division with four games remaining on their regular-season slate. However, they have reeled off five wins over their last six games and are within striking distance of the second-place Florida Panthers and first-place Carolina Hurricanes.
After falling, 1-0, in a shootout to the Red Wings on Saturday, the Lightning responded the following evening with a 2-1 victory as a whopping -291 road favorite, according to the NHL odds. The close contests against an underwhelming Detroit team came as a surprise, considering the Lightning boast one of the best offenses in the league but were held to only a pair of goals over the back-to-back contests in the Motor City.
Had it not been for the heroics of Red Wings’ goalie, Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 40 of 42 shots on Sunday, the score would have been far more lopsided in favor of Tampa Bay. Lightning netminder, Christopher Gibson, saw only his second start of the season but was sharp in victory, turning aside 22 of 23 shots.
Wanna Make a Bet?
The Stars have not just been bitten by the injury bug but devoured whole. Between Tyler Seguin, All-World goalie Ben Bishop, and Alexander Radulov missing either all or a majority of their seasons, plus many others sidelined over shorter periods during the 2020-2021 campaign, it’s tough to blame the Stars for being on the outside looking in on the postseason.
The Lightning have defeated the Stars in five of their six meetings this season and realize these next two games should be layups against a club they have dominated all year, with the last two against a fierce divisional foe in the form of the Florida Panthers. I can’t see the Lightning having any sort of a letdown, particularly when we must consider that standout starting goalie, Andrei Vasilevskiy, has been given the last two games off after being a workhorse throughout the season.
Assuming head coach, Jon Cooper, simply gave Vasilevskiy a breather for a pair of games against an inferior team (Detroit) and his absence is not due to injury, then we should assume the 26-year-old Russian native will be back tending the twine for the Lightning - just another reason to back Tampa Bay in this spot.
The odds on this game are not nearly as daunting as they have been throughout this season series which probably has to do with Seguin back on the ice for Dallas after sitting on the sidelines all year. Nevertheless, we will lay the lumber and back the home chalk here as we keep cashing our NHL picks.
NHL Pick: Lightning -155 at BetOnline