- The Pittsburgh Penguins are 19-5-1 in their last 25 games
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have won 16 of their last 19 outings, including seven straight at home
- The Lightning have won four straight in this series when hosting
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning are in second place in their Eastern Conference divisions and both trying to catch the leader. On Thursday, the two sides will clash in Tampa Bay. The Lightning have won five of the last seven meetings in this series but can they continue their dominance over the Pens?
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total at Bovada|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||+1.5 (-165)||+152||Over 6.5 (-120)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-1.5 (+145)||-168||Under 6.5 (+109)|
Odds taken Feb. 5
Penguins Among Hottest Teams in NHL
The Penguins started the year 14-9-4, which wasn’t bad, but they’ve really turned on the jets since the start of December. Since that point, the Pens are 19-5-1, which is an incredible .760 winning percentage.
The big change for the Pens has been between the pipes as they allowed 3.36 goals-per-game in the month of November, which was the seventh-most. In December, they improved to first overall with just 2.17 goals-per-game. That’s a massive change.
Health is obviously a big key for this team but when their blue line is healthy, they’re third in expected goals against in five-on-five. That’s impressive. We know they have the weapons at the other end of the ice – they long have – but what puts this team over the top is when their defense and goaltending steps up.
Lightning Seemingly Figuring Things Out
The Lightning won 62 games in the regular season last year, so seeing them start 17-13-4 (essentially 17-17) through their first 34 games was not what anyone had expected. However, they’ve been nearly unstoppable ever since, which seems to indicate that they’ve figured things out.
The Lightning are currently on a stretch where they’ve won 16 of their last 19 games. Their only losses were all on the road (at New Jersey, Dallas and Minnesota), two of which came by just one goal.
A big difference for the Lightning has been their goaltending. The Lightning are third in the NHL in goals-per-game at 3.58 and while their goals allowed sits at 2.77 on the season, it’s been really up and down. They gave up 3.50 goals-per-game in October and 3.08 in November. They slightly improved to 2.93 in December but January was a different story.
In January, Tampa Bay is second in the NHL with just 1.92 goals allowed per outing. Their save percentage has shot up to second-best as well at .934 and they’ve really cut down on the amount shots they’re facing at 29.0 per game (25th). Those are all big positives.
With an electric offense to work with, it’s no surprise that this team is hard to stop when they’re allowing just two goals per contest.
What’s the Best Bet?
The Pens don’t play well in this series as they’ve lost five of the last seven meetings and four straight in Tampa Bay. It’s worth noting that the “Over” has cashed in five of the last seven meetings overall and three of the last four in Tampa Bay.
The challenge here is that both teams are hot right now and the Pens are actually not that bad away from home. They’ve won seven of their last nine road games. In what might sound like an odd statement, Tampa Bay probably wins this game but -170 seems like an expensive price here, so I’ll go with Pittsburgh.
My hunch says Tampa Bay wins but sticking with logic, this game is much more of a toss-up than the -170 number indicates. Should Tampa Bay be favored? Absolutely. Should they be laying this kind of number? I have the Penguins vs Lightning odds more in the -140 range.
Yes, the Lightning have won seven straight at home but keep in mind that among those seven victories, they needed a shootout to beat the Los Angeles Kings and barely edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. Pittsburgh has a good shot here.
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