Lightning vs Rangers Betting Preview: Tampa Bay Heads Home in Need of Victory

Surprising Rangers up 2-0 over Two-Time Defending Lightning

One streak came to an end, and now the Tampa Bay Lightning needs to start winning to make sure another streak isn’t soon to be over. Tampa Bay in need of a victory is a main part of the Lightning vs Rangers betting preview.

Tampa Bay Hopes a Return Home Changes Momentum

Since falling to the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games in the opening series of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning have proven to be the most resilient team in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Tampa Bay lost 17 times in the postseason during that stretch and bounced back with a win en route to winning back-to-back Stanley Cup titles. That streak ended with Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers.

Now Tampa Bay returns home for Game 3 and 4. The Lightning need to win at least one of those games to keep the Eastern Conference Final alive. The Lightning won their last four home games in the playoffs and outscored their opponents 18-8, while the Rangers are 2-5 on the road in the playoffs.

Seven teams in the Eastern Conference had better odds to win the Eastern Conference title than the Rangers coming into the season, so this has been a pretty improbable run.

The NHL’s Stanley Cup odds for the Rangers to win the championship have moved from +325 to +250 while the Lightning dropped from +375 to +650 after Game 2.

Lightning vs Rangers Game Information

  • Game: Rangers (52-24-6 in the regular season); Lightning (51-23-8)
  • Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa
  • Day/Time: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Television: ESPN

Youth Being Served During Rangers’ Postseason Run

The inexperience and youth of the New York Rangers was supposed to be their biggest weakness heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is turning out to be their biggest strength.

In the first two games of the series, 24-year-old defenseman Adam Fox, 22-year-old forward Filip Chytil, 20-year-old forward Alexis Lafreniere, 21-year-old forward Kaapo Kakko and 22-year-old defenseman K’Andre Miller have combined for four goals and nine assists. Four of them were former first-round draft picks, including Lafreniere and Kaako going first and second in their drafts, so the success probably shouldn’t be all that surprising.

The Rangers looked like the faster and more confident team during much of the Game 2 win, relying heavily on defensemen Fox, Miller, Jacob Trouba and Ryan Lindgren. They lead the Rangers in time on ice in the series. Combined, they have a defensive rating of +8.

Miller was on the ice for 23:15 and Lindgren for 19:27, as the Rangers completely outplayed the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Miller scored the first of three straight goals by the Rangers as New York went up 2-0 in the series by winning both games at home. A key to the postseason run has been the maturity that the Rangers young players have shown. Seven of the 18 skaters used in the first two games are under 25.

The “Kid Line” delivered again with Kaapo Kakko assisting on Filip Chytil’s goal that gave the Rangers the lead they would not relinquish.

It was more than the offensive numbers. Other than a flurry of shots by the Lightning in the first six minutes of the game as well as in the final four minutes, the game was controlled by the younger and less playoff tested Rangers.

“It’s really exciting,” said Fox, who has assisted on four of the Rangers nine goals in the series. “We were on the other side of it when we were down 2-0, so I think it’s a good lesson for us not to take our foot off the gas.”

Late Flurry Not Enough for Lightning to Even Series

So many times during the last three postseasons, the Tampa Bay Lightning have found ways to win key games even if they weren’t at their best. It looked like it would happen again on Friday night. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s next game has always been their focus even after tough times, and it is no different in this series.

Nick Paul’s goal with 2:02 — bringing the Lightning to within a goal — left plenty of time to get goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy off the ice again in the attempt to tie the game. The Lightning had three more shots on the goal the rest of the way, but couldn’t get the tying point past Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.

Don’t let the 3-2 final disguise the fact that Tampa Bay looked a step slow for much of the game. Reigning Conn Smythe winner Vasilevskiy seemed to be fighting the puck all night long. Those who didn’t know any better would have thought that the Rangers were the team with all the playoff experience, a popular narrative in some Lightning vs Rangers betting previews.

The good news is that as long as Tampa Bay takes care of business on home ice, the Lightning only needs to win one game at Madison Square Garden. Games 3 and 4 are at Amalie Arena in Tampa. There is a quicker turnaround with the puck being dropped shortly after 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday. The Lightning should be fired up and ready to go — so the sooner Game 3 gets here, the better.

When the Lightning got an early power play and took the lead on a goal by Nikita Kucherov just 2:41 into the first period, it looked like business as usual. However, after managing the first six shots of the game thanks in large part to the power play, the ice began to be tilted in the Rangers favor. The Rangers had nine straight shots on goal at one point during the second period. At the midway point of the game, Tampa Bay had yet to record its 10th shot on goal.

The Lightning should be the team with the fresher legs after having more than a week off following a four-game sweep of the Florida Panthers, while New York needed seven games to eliminate Carolina in the last series. That has not been the case.

“At some point, you’re going to lose two in a row in the playoffs,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “The fact that we haven’t for how many years is remarkable. For the most part, streaks do come to an end. Did it knock us out of the playoffs? It did not. Do we have a hill to climb? No question.”

Rangers vs Lightning Betting Analysis

When looking at the Lightning vs Rangers betting preview, Sunday is not an elimination game for Tampa Bay. However, going down 0-3 in a best of seven game series would make the Lightning’s quest to become the first team to win three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders of the early 1980s significantly more challenging. The Lightning won two elimination games including one on the road to survive in the first-round series and won other crucial games during the last two title runs. However, this is a game the Lightning needs to win.

Tampa Bay bounced back to win more faceoffs in Game 2 after being -11 in that department in the opening contest. Being at home should give Tampa Bay the chance to continue to lead in that department.

They haven’t used it as an excuse, but Tampa Bay missing center Brayden Point, the team’s leading goal scorer in the postseason in both 2020 and 2021, leaves a huge hole in the lineup.

The odds now favor the Rangers winning the series in five games. That carries a payout of +325. The odds are +400 for the series being decided in seven games regardless of which team emerges victorious.

The Rangers are 5-0 against the Lightning this season with the Lightning being favored each time. The Rangers have outscored the Lightning 19-8 in those games. The Rangers are 5-3 in their last eight played on the road against the Lightning.

The Rangers are 6-3 in the last nine one-goal games against Tampa Bay. Mika Zibanejad has six goals in five games against Tampa Bay this season while Fox has seven assists. Shesterkin has a 1.57 goals-against average when facing Tampa Bay this year. The Lightning’s Vasilevskiy is 0-4 with a 3.82 GAA against the Rangers.

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