Thursday evening pucks and the Atlantic Division will square off with the Metro Division as the Tampa Bay Lightning Duke it out with the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Lightning enter this game off a 4-3 home win over the Maple Leafs, while the Islanders are off a 4-1 home win over the Penguins. Goalie Probables: The Lightning will be sending out Andrei Vasilevskiy and the Islanders will counter with Jaroslav Halak.
Bolts Win Showdown With The Leafs
The Tampa Bay Lightning have clinched a playoff spot, but they still would like to win the Atlantic Division. The Toronto Maple Leafs had a chance to close the gap some in the division, but the Bolts took care of that with a 4-3 home win on Tuesday night. Tampa Bay was trailing that game by a 3-1 score as the teams entered the 3rd period, but they scored three in the first 9:14 of the final frame to walk away with the big win. Scoring in the win was Victor Hedman, which was his 13th of the year, Ryan McDonagh, which was his 4th, Nikita Kucherov, which was his 37th and Alex Killorn, whose 14th of the year was the game-winner. Tampa Bay has now won seven of their last nine games and they now lead their division by five points over the Bruins and by 11 points over the Maple Leafs. Tampa Bay has gone 23-13 on the road and they have averaged 3.50 gpg and have allowed 2.67 gpg in those games.
Grabbing the win against the Maple Leafs was Andrei Vasilevskiy, who stopped 27 of the 30 shots that he faced to improve to 41-17 with a .922 save percentage on the year, while out on the road he has gone 17-9 with a 2.18 GAA and a .936 save percentage. In his career, he has gone 34-33 with a 2.41 GAA on the road and 24-17 with a 2.63 GAA against the Metro Division, while against the Islanders he has gone 3-2 with a 1.73 GAA.
Tampa Bay comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.53 gpg, while also ranking 13th in shots taken (32.5 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 23.9% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been decent so far as they come in ranked 11th in goals allowed, giving up 2.78 gpg, while also ranking 22nd in shots allowed (32.6 spg) and 26th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 23.3% of their chances.
The Islanders Take Down the Defending Champs
The Pittsburgh Penguins had been playing very well especially on offense, but the Islanders shut down that offense to walk away with a solid 4-1 home win on Tuesday night. Wins have been hard to come by for the Islanders and that win was just their 2nd in their last 13 games. The Islanders are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but they are 10 points out of the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference and they will have just eight games to go after this one. It is highly unlikely that they will be able to make up the ground needed to get in. Scoring in the win was Mathew Barzal, which was his 20th of the year, Adam Pelech, which was his 3rd, Anders Lee, which was his team-leading 36th and Jordan Eberle, which was his 25th. The Islanders have gone 17-18 here at home for the year and they have averaged 3.46 gpg and have allowed 3.69 gpg in those games.
The Islanders haven’t had much to cheer about in the crease this year, but Christopher Gibson had a huge game against a very hot offense as he allowed the Penguins just one goal on 37 shot attempts to move to 2-3 with a 2.58 GAA and a .936 save percentage on the year. We should see Jaroslav Halak in this one and he has gone 18-30 with a 3.28 GAA and a .906 save percentage on the year, including 11-14 with a 3.38 GAA and a .910 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 135-86 with a 2.36 GAA in his home games and 43-41 with a 2.66 GAA against the Atlantic Division, while against the Lightning he has gone 4-4 with a 2.97 GAA.
The Islanders enter this contest ranked 9th in the league in scoring at 3.18 gpg, while also ranking 21st in shots taken (31.2 spg) and 8th in power play conversions, converting on 21.8% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been very poor as they enter this contest ranked 31st in goals allowed, giving up 3.56 gpg, while also ranking 31st in shots allowed (35.7 spg) and 31st in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 25.0% of their chances.
Tampa Bay is:
- 38-13 in their last 51 when their opponent allows two goals or less in their previous game
- 30-11 in their last 41 road games vs. a team with a losing home record
New York is:
- 2-8 in their last 10 games playing on one days rest
- 1-8 in their last nine vs. the Eastern Conference
The Islanders had a very nice win against the Penguins at home in their last game, but I don’t feel that they can do it again against the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning have clinched a playoff berth, but they still want to win their division, which would give them the number one seed in the eastern conference. That gives them plenty to play for in this one, while the Islanders really have no shot at a postseason berth. This should also be a high scoring game as the Lightning are the top offensive team in the league and New York home games have averaged 7.15 gpg on the year. I say take the Islanders and I also say to take the Over, especially since the Over is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings between these teams here in New York.