In a back-and-forth series, the Tampa Bay Lightning will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in a winner takes all Game Seven. The Lightning won Game Six 4-3 in overtime to not only force a Game Seven but keep their quest to win three Stanley Cup titles in a row alive. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, squandered a golden opportunity to advance to the next round and hope to win Game Seven on their home ice to advance to the Second Round for the first time since 2004.
Lightning hope offense can carry them to next roundThe Lightning have forced this series to seven games with their offense stepping up and scoring 21 goals in the series including 14 goals in the last three games. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Ondrej Palat have scored seven goals and 10 assists combined to lead the top line but the rest of the offense has stepped up as well. Ross Colton, Brayden Point, and Alex Killorn have combined for five goals and seven assists to lead the middle two forward lines while defensemen Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh have added three goals and seven assists from the blue line to put the offense over the top.
The offense has been incredible in the First Round but the defense has struggled, allowing 23 goals in the series. Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak have stepped up as the top defensive pairing but the rest of the unit has struggled and has allowed the Maple Leafs to control the puck in the offensive zone and create open shots on the net. Moreover, goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL has struggled with a .885 save percentage and a 3.37 goals-against average on 183 shots.
Maple Leafs hope offense can end playoff curseThe Maple Leafs have lost their last eight elimination game and hope their offense can allow them to advance to the Second Round for the first time since 2004, as they have scored 23 goals in this series. Auston Matthews has scored four goals and four assists while Mitch Marner and Michael Bunting have added three goals and eight assists to the top line but the rest of the offense has been great as well. William Nylander, John Tavares, and Ilya Mikheyev have combined for eight goals and nine assists while David Kampf, Colin Blackwell, and Alexander Kerfoot have added four goals and two assists to give the Maple Leafs four potent scoring lines. Moreover, defensemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin have opened up the offense with four goals and four assists from the point.
The offense has been great but the defense has struggled, allowing 21 goals in the series including four goals in Game Six. Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie have led the top defensive pairing but the rest of the unit has struggled and is allowing the Lightning to generate shots on the net at will. In addition, goaltender Jack Campbell has struggled in the net with a.893 save percentage and a 3.33 goals-against average on 178 shots.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
If there was ever a team to end the Maple Leafs' curse, this would be it and they have proven that they can defeat the Lightning and win Game Seven on their home ice. However, the Lightning have forced this series to seven games and look to build off the overtime win and control this game in all three zones. The Lightning, who have scored 21 goals in the series should pile on the goals with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and the rest of the forward unit creating scoring chances with quick passes on the wings and finding open shots by the face-off circles and in the slot. The Lightning should also limit the Maple Leafs' offense with Victor Hedman, Erik Cernak, and the rest of the defensive unit stepping up and controlling the puck in the defensive zone while limiting passing lanes for the Maple Leafs and forcing direct shots on the net, allowing goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to step up and make plenty of big saves. The Lightning should win Game Seven to win the series and advance to the Second Round.
Full-Game Total Pick
This is a high total and with everything on the line in Game Seven, it's easy to think that both defenses will step up and make this game a low-scoring one. However, both the Maple Leafs and the Lightning have been carried by their offenses throughout the season and this series and both units look to pile on the goals once again. The Maple Leafs, who scored 23 goals in the series, should find the back of the net throughout the game with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and the rest of the forward unit establishing a strong offensive zone presence and creating open shots with quick passes to catch the Lightning out of position. The Lightning, who scored 14 goals in the last three games, should run up the score with Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and the rest of the forward unit crashing the net on the rush and creating open shots with great puck movement in the offensive zone while Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh overwhelm the Maple Leafs' defense by generating shots on the net from the point. The Over should cover in a high-scoring game controlled by both offenses.