TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (26-14-5, 57 pts)
at CAROLINA HURRICANES (21-16-6, 48 pts)
Puck drops: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Carolina -130, Tampa Bay +110 Total: 5.5
The Hurricanes host the first-place Lightning on Saturday night as division rivals battle in Carolina. Vegas odds.
The ‘Canes have played very well since losing three straight from December 20-26. They had a streak of eight straight games earning a point snapped with a 3-2 loss at Buffalo on Thursday. Carolina is 6-1-2 over its past nine games to move within three points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A big reason for the Hurricanes improvement recently has been their penalty-kill. While the ‘Canes still rank in the bottom six with a percentage of 78.5, they have allowed just three power-play goals in their past eight games, compared to allowing 10 power-play goals in their previous eight games. Eric Staal has a seven-game point streak and has scored five goals in his past nine games, while rookie Jeff Skinner has four goals and six points in his past four games.
The Lightning acquired Dwayne Roloson from the Islanders earlier this month, and he immediately paid off as he has shut out the Capitals twice (the second one coming Wednesday), and stopped 31 of 32 shots in defeating the Senators. However, he has been awful in losses to Penguins where he allowed five goals on 23 shots before being lifted, and Friday night against the Devils when he allowed four goals on nine shots before being lifted. Martin St. Louis has two goals and two assists in his past four games, while Steven Stamkos recorded a goal and assist on Friday night after registering just one point in his previous six games. Betting lines.
There are only a couple of substantial injuries to report. Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith (knee) and Carolina forward Jiri Tlusty (arm) are both on injured reserve.
Tampa has proven over the last month that as long as it stays away from teams in the Atlantic Division it should be fine. Since December 11, the Lightning are 2-3-1 against the Atlantic, which includes two losses against the lowly Devils, and an OT loss to the Islanders. They are 9-1 against everyone else and have won five straight against the Southeast Division, outscoring those opponents 14-4. I like Tampa Bay to continue its winning ways against Carolina. Sports scores.
TAMPA BAY is 14-6 ATS (+20.9 Units) against good offensive teams – scoring 2.85+ goals/game this season. The average score was TAMPA BAY 3.2, OPPONENT 3.1 – (Rating = 2*).