The Sabres were able to play close to the Lightning for 2 periods, but just like the Hurricanes, they collapsed late in the 3rd and dropped a 2 goal decision to the surging Tampa Bay Lightning. There is too much firepower to hold down for an entire game. Tampa is going to find a way to win if the opposing offence doesn’t get to the Lightning early.
It felt like a foregone conclusion in Raleigh, and then in another close game going into the 3rd last night, I didn’t get the impression that the Sabres had the upper hand. Jumping out early and generating a comfortable lead isn’t an easy thing to do against this team, either. How do you beat the Lightning? A little bit of luck and catching the Lightning on an off night. As good as they are, the Bolts are not going to be playing at 100 percent every night.
In the midst of a back-to-back on the road, we’ll see if the Lightning have one of those rare off nights at the office. With the win yesterday, the Lightning advanced to 35-8-2 on the season. The Maple Leafs tried to keep up, but we’re not even into February and Tampa are breaking away from the rest in the Atlantic.
The Bruins are right behind the Leafs now after defeating them last night. There’s only a 2 point difference between the Bruins and Leafs now. I don’t think the Lightning are too concerned, as they look on track to the Presidents’ Trophy, which as we’ve seen, doesn’t mean much when it comes to the playoffs.
Tampa haven’t hoisted the Stanley Cup in the Stamkos’ era, with this year probably the best chance they’ve had. This team certainly looks better than the lineup that went to the 2015 Eastern Conference Final against the Bruins. In other words, cue the choke memes if the Lightning fail in the playoffs. They take on an Islanders team that has gotten better, but are likely a couple years off from being a contender. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Islanders pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. N.Y. Islanders Pick
The Lightning had their off night against the Hurricanes on Thursday. Against a better team that’s probably a loss, but they still found a way to get out of it with a win against the Canes. Louis Domingue was in net last night, while Vasilevskiy will get the call against the Isles on Sunday. He enters with a solid 2.49 GAA and 0.925 percentage.
The Islanders will likely counter with Thomas Greiss following a solid performance by Robin Lehner yesterday. That’s probably not the best news for Islanders’ fans. Greiss has gotten railed against the Lightning in his career, with a 3.83 GAA and 0.89 save percentage.
There aren’t many goaltenders that have gotten away from getting pummeled by the Lightning this season, though. After netting 5 goals last night, Tampa are up to 4.11 goals per game in the 2018-19 season. They led the league with 3.54 goals per game last season and are on pace to shatter that mark. The year before, the Penguins were 1st with just 3.39 goals per game, which looks pretty average for this season in comparison. Totals of 6.5 were pretty difficult to find back then.
Scoring goals on the Islanders has been pretty easy for the Lightning. Note that in their previous three meetings, dating back to December of 2017, the Bolts have averaged 5.6 goals per game for 17 goals. Conversely, the Isles scored a respectable 3.3 goals per game in those three outings.
In their last four meetings, they’ve scored 3.75 goals per game against the Lightning. The OVER has gone 6-1-1 in the Lightning’s last eight road games, and the Islanders have seen an average of 7 goals in their previous three outings. A play on the OVER for a unit looks like the most attractive option in Brooklyn on Sunday.