A nice Saturday evening for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers last night. The Lightning held off the Penguins for a 5-4 win and the Panthers stole a win in Washington with a 5-4 victory in overtime. They surrendered a 2 goal lead, but were able to come out ahead off a Mike Hoffman goal in extra time. It’s a good win for the Panthers, who are going to need every point they can find down the stretch.
Back-to-back wins over the Capitals and Lightning would certainly result in a confidence booster in Sunrise. The Panthers are 9 points behind for the final seed in the Eastern Conference, so there is an uphill battle ahead of them. It would be nice and all to beat the Capitals and Lightning in just two days, but they are going to need more of that down in the final months of the regular season. A win last night in a tough environment was a good start for the Panthers.
Tampa broke out for 5 goals against the Penguins last night. Their efficient offence had been falling asleep a bit recently, but it looks like they finally came out of their coma in Pittsburgh. Five different members of the Lightning got on the board, as they were able to overcome a shaky performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy in net.
With their quick strike offence, the Lightning don’t need to get elite goaltending play every night. Although, it’s likely going to be needed in the playoffs. Despite losses in three of their previous six games, the Lightning are sitting pretty with 84 points and 1st in the NHL. The next closest team is the Flames in the Western Conference. With the Leafs in second at 71 points, it’s unlikely that anyone is going to be able to catch Tampa for the top seed in the conference. Head below for our free Lightning vs. Panthers pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers Pick
The backup goaltenders are expected to be in net for both teams tonight. With the Bolts and Cats on a back-to-back, we’re likely to see Louis Domingue and James Reimer in net. At 39 years of age, Boughner is not going to give Luongo many back-to-back starts at this stage in his career. Reimer has been an okay backup for the Panthers this season, though his results have been far too inconsistent.
Reimer owns a 3.06 GAA and 0.901 save percentage, which is solid enough to earn a paycheck as a backup goaltender in the NHL. The Panthers really need somebody to get hot, though, and I just don’t think it’s going to come from Luongo or Reimer. Reimer has posted a 3.17 GAA and 0.903 save percentage against the Lightning in his career. The Lightning have more talent offensively than they’ve had in the past, so this is going to be a test for him. As a team, the Panthers are 29th with 3.4 goals allowed per game.
I think the Lightning woke up at the worst possible time for the Panthers. After playing below their average for the last couple of weeks, the Lightning exploded last night against the Penguins. I expect them to be able to take that performance and carry it over into Sunday against the Panthers.
Reimer shouldn’t be able to offer too much resistance. Domingue is a downgrade from Vasilevskiy with a 2.95 GAA and 0.906 save percentage. Fine for a backup, but look for the Panthers to find some success offensively at home, where they’ve averaged 3.28 goals per game on the year. I’d look for another high-scoring final score for both teams this evening in Sunrise.