Lightning vs Capitals – NHL Game 3 Pick for May 15th
In the first two games of this series, Washington absolutely dominated Tampa Bay on their home ice and now have a 2-0 series lead. Game 3 is a must win for the Lightning and they will have to do it on Washington’s home ice. With the way Tampa has played so far, I’m not sure they have what it takes to get back into this series. And, history certainly isn’t on their side.
Since 1975, teams that have gone down 0-2 in the Conference Finals or Semifinals have lost 39 of 41 series. Road teams that have gone up 2-0 in the Conference Finals have gone 18-1. Tampa has won a first-round series after being down 0-2. Ironically, it was 15 years ago and it was against Washington. But, this series has a different feel to it. It’s almost as if the Lightning are shell-shocked by the disparity between the two teams so far.
In the first two games, Washington outscored Tampa 10-4 with a 7-1 advantage in even strength. The Capitals chased goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy out of the Game 2. He’s allowed 10 goals on 62 shots in just 5 periods of play. For Tampa to have a chance, Andrei will need to win the game for them. Washington has scored 23 goals at home in the postseason, which is an average of 3.5 goals per game. However, they’ve gone 3-3 in the postseason at home. So, the door is cracked for the Lightning to take advantage of Washington’s inconsistency at home.
For Tampa to win Game 3, they need to scrap their previous game plans and come up with something new. What they had planned before, has not worked so far. For starters, Tampa needs to play better at even strength. We mentioned the disparity in even strength goals, but it can also be seen in shots on goal as Washington has the advantage at 53 to 40. Tampa will also need to even out the possessions as Washington has secured 57% so far.
Next, the Lightning will also have to do a better job on killing power plays as they’ve already allowed 3 PP goals in two games. Offensively, Tampa needs to get more out of their top players Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov has tallied 2 points in this series so far, both points coming on assists. Stamkos has a goal in each game and 3 points total, but he’s only had 5 shots on goal and has not done enough to lead this offense.
Defensively, Tampa needs to clear the puck out of their side of the ice, block more shots and get more production from their stud defenders. Victor Hedman is one of those defenders who need to perform better. He has no goals in the postseason after scoring 17 during the regular season. Additionally, he needs to do better on the power play as he hasn’t produced on this unit either.
With the uncertainty of Tampa being able to bounce back, and whether or not Washington will take their foot off the gas, I see the value being with the Over in Game 3.
The Over is 17-8 in Tampa’s last 25 road games, 10-5 on Tuesday nights, 9-4 when revenging a home loss, and 15-7 in the last 22 games against Washington. For the Capitals, the Over is 6-2 in their last 8 home games. In this series, the two teams have combined for 6 or more goals in both games.
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