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Lightning Host Islanders To Open Stanley Cup Semifinal

Brayden Point and the Lightning are favored over the Islanders in Game 1 of their semi-final matchup.

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue defense of their Stanley Cup title by facing the New York Islanders again as solid home favorites in Game 1 of this best-of-seven semifinal series starting Sunday at Amalie Arena. The Lightning defeated the Islanders in the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals en route to winning their second Stanley Cup in Edmonton.

New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Date/Time: June 13, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Arena: Amalie Arena
  • TV Coverage: NBC
  • Opening Odds: Lightning -175 | O/U 5.5 (Line History)
  • Islanders vs Lightning Matchup Report

Opening Odds Analysis

Tampa Bay is the side bettors are backing here in the series opener for obvious reasons as the defending Stanley Cup champion and more well-known club due to strong star power. The public knows the names of Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilveskiy because they have been in this spot before and risen to the occasion.

Not to take anything from last year’s Cup team, but this one appears even stronger too despite finishing third in the Central Division this season. New York is a hard-working, physical team that grinds on opponents and wears them down over the course of a series, and Tampa Bay’s flashy finesse style of play will be put to the test early on. The line is up to -191 in favor of the Lightning, and they made a big statement in Game 1 of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals with a resounding 8-2 victory as -160 favorites.

New York News & Notes

The Islanders are hoping to learn from last year’s experience in the Eastern Conference Fianls, as they got off to a rough start in losing the first two games and never really recovered. Sure, they ended up winning two games to make the series somewhat competitive, but losing the series opener in such dramatic fashion made it very hard to overcome.

Both goaltenders Semyon Varlamov (20 saves on 25 shots) and Thomas Greiss (six on nine) struggled in Game 1, with the latter earning the start before getting pulled. Varlamov is the man now and played much better from Game 2 on, and he will be counted on after taking over between the pipes for rookie Ilya Sorokin following Game 1 in their second-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins. New York was also coming off a grueling seven-game series last time around while Tampa Bay was well-rested.

Tampa Bay News & Notes

The Lightning should not be taking the Islanders lightly and realize they could be in for a war if they let their guard down. Tampa Bay is the most talented offensive team remaining and will need to score a lot of goals in this series, just like last year. But this team must stay focused and avoid taking penalties that could give the opposition some extra confidence.

New York will likely try to be physical from the get-go, so it is extremely important not to take the bait and risk injury. The Lightning do have the benefit of depth, especially with a healthy Stamkos this time. With five players tallying double-digit points so far in Kucherov (18), Stamkos (13), Alex Killorn (12), Brayden Point (12) and Hedman (11), they need to keep those players on the ice and avoid injuries to any of them.

Betting Pick: Islanders UNDER 5.5

Tampa Bay led 3-1 after the first period in Game 1 of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, with four more goals scored in the third. That will not be the case here since both teams have enjoyed extra rest heading into this series opener. Look for a lower-scoring affair like four of the last five between them last year with the UNDER going 3-1-1.

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Shark Bites
  • The Lightning are 8-3 in their last 11 games.
  • The Islanders are 7-2 in their last 9 games.
  • The UNDER is 3-1-1 in the past 5 meetings.