It’s a Central Division contest on the ice in the Music City between a pair of teams looking to pick up two points in the standings. The Tampa Bay Lightning are on the road as they travel to face the Nashville Predators Saturday night. Tampa Bay comes in off a 6-4 road victory over Columbus Thursday night as they split a two-game set with the Blue Jackets. Nashville trounced Detroit 7-1 Thursday on the road to sweep a two-game set with the last-place Red Wings. In the season series, the Lightning have won five of the six meetings though it was the Predators earning a 4-1 road victory in the most recent matchup on March 15.
Tampa Bay Lightning Look to Keep Pace in Central DivisionTampa Bay bounced back from five losses in seven games as they took care of business against Columbus Thursday night on the road. The Lightning entered Friday trailing the Hurricanes by one point for the top spot in the Central Division standings. They stood 15 points clear of fifth-place Chicago to remain on the right side of the cut line for the postseason. Tampa Bay stands second in the league in goals for as they average 3.43 goals per contest this season. The Lightning are tied for sixth in the league in goals against as they allow only 2.50 goals per game on the year. Tampa Bay is 4th in power play success as they convert 25.4% of their opportunities with the man advantage this year. The Lightning are 10th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate through 82% of their shorthanded situations on the year.
In Thursday’s game, Tampa Bay jumped all over Columbus early and hung on for the victory thanks to a stellar offensive showing. The opening period saw the Lightning outshot by an 18-12 margin but they blitzed the Blue Jackets to take a 4-1 lead to the dressing room after 20 minutes. Blake Coleman opened the scoring with his eighth of the year at the 58 second mark off assists from Yanni Gourde and Barclay Goodrow. Steven Stamkos made it a 2-0 game with his 17th of the year, on the power play, at 4:41 off assists from Victor Hedman and Ondrej Palat. Exactly one minute later, Goodrow made it a 3-0 game with his sixth of the year off assists from Coleman and Gourde. After the Blue Jackets got on the board, Ryan McDonagh restored Tampa’s three-goal edge with his third of the year at 19:59 off assists from Coleman and Gourde. In the second period, the Lightning held an 11-9 edge in shots on goal and outscored Columbus 2-1 to take a 6-2 lead after 40 minutes. Ross Colton extended to a 5-1 Tampa Bay lead with his sixth of the year at 4:54 off assists from Pat Maroon and Tyler Johnson. After the Blue Jackets made it a 5-2 game, McDonagh scored his second of the game and fourth of the year at 18:56 off assists from Goodrow and Gourde to re-extend to a four-goal margin. The final period saw Tampa Bay outshot 9-7 and outscored 2-0 but that merely made the final score more respectable. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 32 saves for the Lightning, who were outshot 36-30, in the win. He’s expected to get the start in goal again here.
Nashville Predators Seeking to Stay HotNashville won their third straight and their 11th in the last 13 games as they walloped Detroit in the Motor City their last time out. The Predators entered Friday fourth in the Central Division, 12 points behind Carolina for the division lead and four points ahead of Chicago for the final playoff spot. Nashville is tied for 24th in the league in goals for as they average 2.56 goals per game this year. The Predators are 16th in the league in goals against as they allow an average of 2.83 goals a night. Nashville is 15th in power play success as they successfully convert on 21% of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Predators are a dismal 28th in the league in penalty killing as they manage to get through a paltry 73.9% of their shorthanded situations.
In Thursday’s tilt with the Red Wings, Nashville jumped all over Detroit in the final two periods to turn the game into a romp. The opening period saw the shots even at 10 with neither team lighting the lamp, leaving things scoreless after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, both teams had 10 shots on goal with Nashville holding a 3-1 edge on the scoreboard to take that edge after 40 minutes. After falling behind 1-0, Viktor Arvidsson tied the game with his sixth of the year at 2:28 off assists from Nick Cousins and Mattias Ekholm. Erik Haula gave Nashville a 2-1 lead with his fourth of the year at 6:36 off an assist from Rocco Grimaldi. Cousins extended to a two-goal lead with his fourth of the year at 16:10 off assists from Haula and Colton Sissons. In the third period, the Predators held a 12-6 shot advantage and blew the game open with a 4-0 advantage on the scoreboard to turn things into a rout. Mikael Granlund gave the Predators a 4-1 lead with his 10th of the year at 7:06 off assists from Ekholm and Ben Harpur. Arvidsson scored his second of the game and seventh of the year at the 10:00 mark off assists from Tyler Lewington and Ryan Johansen. Arvidsson capped his hat trick with his third of the night and eighth of the season at 11:06 with an unassisted marker to make it a 6-1 game. Yakov Trenin closed the scoring with his third of the year at 15:55 off assists from Sissons and Harpur. Juuse Saros made 25 saves for the Predators, who held a 32-26 edge in shots on goal, in the victory. He’s expected to start between the pipes again here.
The top trends for this contest are:
- Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 when their opponent scores 5 goals or more in their previous game
- Lightning are 4-1 in their last 5 Saturday games
- Predators are 2-10 in their last 12 vs. a team with a winning % above .600
- Predators are 1-5 in their last 6 home games vs. a team with a winning road record
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be a clash between a pair of teams that are on the right side of the playoff cut line in the Central Division standings. The Lightning hopes that their win on Thursday will help them get back on track after a rough stretch. Nashville has been one of the league’s hottest teams of late to push into the playoff picture and they are at home here. The problem for the Predators is that they have lost five of their six meetings with the Lightning on the season. In addition, even with their strong play, the team is still below average offensively and a middle of the pack team on the defensive end of the ice. You have to lean toward the Lightning here as they slow Nashville, at least for one night.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Lightning has seen the over go 21-17-2 in their games this season, including in each of their last three contests. Tampa Bay has seen an average of 5.93 goals per contest on the year. That climbs slightly to 6.05 goals a night when the Lightning are the visitors. Nashville has seen the over go 17-19-5 in their games on the year. The Predators have seen an average of 5.39 goals per game this season in their games. Nashville sees that number drop to 5.26 goals per game when they are the home team on the year. This season, the teams have gone over the total four times in six meetings as they’ve combined for seven, seven, five, seven, nine and five goals in their contests. Given the big offensive numbers for both teams in their last contest, this one ends up over the mark.