Isles to maintain home dominance over Tampa?
The Lightning’s road woes against the Islanders are well-documented. With a couple of key role players set to return to the lineup tonight, New York aims to extend the visitors’ misery even further.
Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals gets underway at 7 p.m. ET. Handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv give the host team odds of -110 to grab a 2-1 series lead, while Tampa Bay enters as a 1.5-goal underdog. The over/under total rests at five goals.
Not only do Jon Cooper’s troops own nary a regulation win in the past nine trips to the Isles’ facility, they’ll confront some fresh faces this evening. Winger Josh Bailey (undisclosed) and defenseman Ryan Pulock (upper body) appear poised to hit the Barclays Center ice after missing the first two contests. New York captain John Tavares will appreciate any kind of assistance, frankly, having essentially functioned as a one-man band thus far. The two-time All-Star boasts 11 points in the postseason, even though he came up empty Saturday.
Tampa Bay’s 4-1 triumph over the weekend was necessary for a variety of reasons. Chiefly, it boosted goalie Ben Bishop’s confidence following his flameout in the opener. The Lightning also continued to pelt the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss with rubber. Through 120 minutes of action, the Atlantic Division stalwarts hold a 67-42 advantage in shots.
If Cooper manages to keep his guys out of the box (New York has already received nine power-play opportunities), the Lightning stand an excellent chance of snapping their lengthy skid on Long Island. Bailey and Pulock probably won’t see a ton of shifts right away, and Tampa Bay’s sustained pressure in the offensive zone can’t be denied. Take the No. 2 seed here.
TUESDAY NHL FREE PICK: LIGHTNING +1.5