- Columbus looks to build on Thursday’s 3-1 victory when they face Tampa Bay on Saturday (Aug. 15) in Game 3 of their first-round series
- The Blue Jackets rebounded from a five-overtime heartbreaker in Game 1, but continue to lag behind Tampa Bay in the NHL playoff odds
- See all the odds and trends ahead of Saturday night’s Game 3 clash at Scotiabank Arena
The Columbus Blue Jackets answered the call in Game 2 of their first-round series with Tampa Bay, responding from an historic Game 1 loss to claim a hard-earned 3-1 win.
Despite their continued success at shutting down high-powered opponents, the Blue Jackets look to Saturday night’s Game 3 matchup at Scotiabank Arena as +140 underdogs in the Lightning vs Blue Jackets odds.
Lightning vs Blue Jackets Game 3 Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-162||-1.5 (+180)||O 5.0 (-137)|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+140||+1.5 (-205)||U 5.0 (+114)|
Odds as of on Aug. 13. All odds include OT.
Blue Jackets Refuse to Roll Over
Demoralized by a 3-2 loss in a marathon series opener that extended to five overtime periods, the Blue Jackets surrendered an early 1-0 lead in Thursday afternoon’s contest, but refused to roll over. Buoyed by another steady goaltending performance from Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus rebounded with a pair of goals to finish the opening frame with a lead they would not relinquish despite getting outshot by a wide 37-22 margin.
With the series now tied at a game apiece, the Blue Jackets have made major gains in the NHL playoff series prices, returning to a more respectable +180 after plummeting to a distant +375 in the wake of Tuesday’s loss.
Thursday’s win also places massive pressure on the Lightning, particularly considering their playoff history with the Blue Jackets. The top team in the NHL last season, Tampa Bay meekly bowed out in four games when they encountered the Blue Jackets in the first round, with the Blue Jackets completing the sweep with a pair of decisive victories on home ice.
Frustrating Style Paying Dividends
However, with home-ice advantage having diminished meaning in these bubble-bound playoffs, it remains to be seen whether this pesky Blue Jackets squad can continue to frustrate their high-powered opponents. The club has enjoyed immense success so far, surrendering just 2.29 goals per game in seven outings, including the five dates during their qualifying-round upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Joonas Korpisalo so far this postseason:
•.962 save % in 6 games
•Stopped first 57 shots he faced
•Shutout in do-or-die game
•Made 85 saves in single game
•Stopped 154 of 158 shots in 3 games since getting pulled
•Doing it vs. 1st and 4th highest scoring teams this season
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) August 13, 2020
Korpisalo has been simply spectacular. After stopping 36 of 37 shots in Thursday’s win, the 26-year-old now sports a gaudy .960 save percentage in his five playoff appearances, including his record-setting 85-save performance in Game 1. Perhaps more importantly, he has put the brakes on a two-game losing streak against Tampa Bay, a run during which he allowed 13 total goals.
The Blue Jackets are also getting breakthrough performances from Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones. Dubois has led the attack, tallying eight points in seven games, including a goal and three assists so far in this series. Jones has been a workhouse on the blueline, playing in all situations, and racking up enormous minutes, including an NHL record 65:06 in Game 1.
Lightning Fading at Sportsbooks
With the momentum swinging back in the Blue Jackets’ favor, how will the Lightning respond in Game 3? Perched as -186 chalk in Game 2, Tampa Bay looks to Game 3 pegged as a reduced -162 bet. The Lightning have also tumbled to -225 favorites to win this series after soaring to as short as -650 after Game 1. And with good reason.
Nikita Kucherov getting rattled in a Game 2 against the Blue Jackets?
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) August 13, 2020
The Lightning offense has yet to regain the form that made them tops in the NHL this season. Tampa Bay has mustered just 2.20 goals per game through its first five. That has fueled a steady 6-0 run for the UNDER in the Lightning’s past six. Despite that trend, the total in Saturday’s game is favored to go OVER 5.0 at -137 odds.
This offense needs Stamkos back, nobody is scared of Johnson on the right circle where Stamkos normally sits.
That's the power play and the offense as a whole. They need him to boost the attack against this boring, stifling Columbus team.
— Andrew Weiss (@WeissHockeyTalk) August 13, 2020
In addition to a power play that has converted on just two of 11 opportunities, the continued absence of captain Steven Stamkos hasn’t helped matters. While Nikita Kucherov picked up a pair of assists in Game 1, and opened the scoring in Game 2, he has yet to emerge as a force in this series. Victor Hedman’s injured ankle appears to be holding up well through the first two contests. However, Andrei Vasilevskiy looked shaky in Game 2, particularly early on, making just 19 saves in Thursday’s loss.
Blue Jackets in Their Heads?
Now faced with the reality that last season’s playoff loss to the Blue Jackets was not an aberration, can the Lightning regain the momentum in Game 3? Of course, they have all the weapons to do so, but it will take more than an early goal to take away the psychological advantage that Columbus now has in this series.
There is no reason to expect the Blue Jackets will do anything other than continue to play the frustrating brand of hockey that has taken them further this season than most observers imagined.
Picks: Blue Jackets to win (+140); UNDER 5.0 +114
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