- Pittsburgh Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, but have lost both meetings with Tampa this season
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have won seven straight and have gone 8-1-1 in their last 10
- Pittsburgh is firmly in win-now mode, as evidenced by Monday night’s trade to land Jason Zucker from the Minnesota Wild
Two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams meet for the third and final time in the regular season on Tuesday night, as the Pittsburgh Penguins (34-15-5) host the Tampa Bay Lightning (36-15-5). Tampa has won its last seven contests, including last Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Penguins, the Lightning’s third straight victory over Pittsburgh dating back to last season.
However, the Tampa Bay vs Pittsburgh odds currently make this an even game.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Pittsburgh Penguins Odds
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+1.5 (-300)||-110||O 6.0 (-115)|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||-1.5 (+250)||-110||U 6.0 (-105)|
Odds taken Feb. 11
Penguins Go All In
If there was ever any doubt before, it was taken away Monday night as Pittsburgh rolled the dice on both its season and its immediate future with a trade for Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker.
The Penguins have acquired forward Jason Zucker from the Wild in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a conditional 2020 first-round draft pick.
Zucker is signed through the 2022.23 season and his contract carries an AAV of $5.5M.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 11, 2020
The price was steep, with forward Alex Galchenyuk, defenseman Calen Addison and a conditional 2020 first-round pick all going the other way. However, with first-line winger Jake Guentzel out for the year, it was a price that Pittsburgh felt it had to pay to be a factor both now and in the postseason.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) February 11, 2020
Zucker isn’t exactly having a lights-out year, with 29 points in 45 games so far, but playing on the wing with either captain Sidney Crosby or fellow star center Evgeni Malkin should be an upgrade over his centermen in Minnesota. That could see an offensive uptick for the speedy winger. Pittsburgh will certainly be hoping that a change of scenary will bring the best out of the 28-year-old, starting Tuesday night.
Potential Playoff Preview
With both teams currently sitting in second in their respective divisions, a potential Eastern Conference final could be in the offing if both make it that far.
But in the third and final regular-season meeting between the teams, the Penguins will be hoping to reverse their recent fortunes against the Lightning as Tampa has won both meetings this season and six of the last eight head-to-head contests.
Tampa will be bringing a seven-game win streak and a nine-game point streak into Tuesday’s game. However, it will be playing the second game of back-to-back games after Monday’s 2-1 overtime win at the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Lighting have also been 18-8-3 away from Amalie Arena this season, so playing in a hostile territory is unlikely to affect their rhythm either.
Lightning Firing On All Cylinders
After a slowish start to the season – certainly by last seasons’ Presidents’ Trophy-winning standards – the Lightning seem to have shaken their playoff hangover.
The team has picked up points in 20 of its last 22 games, a string which included a 10-game win streak before the current seven-game run. As a result, Tampa is currently joint-second in the Eastern Conference alongside the Washington Capitals and trails the conference-leading Boston Bruins by just three points.
21 sets the table and 86 cleans up. ? pic.twitter.com/aKukWsIIUx
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 11, 2020
The offense is currently firing as well, with the 201 goals scored this season the second-highest mark in the NHL behind the Caps. What’s even more impressive about the Lightning’s run is they are doing it despite injuries to key players. Captain Steven Stamkos is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while defenseman Ryan McDonagh is out a couple of weeks after being hurt blocking a shot in Thursday’s win over Pittsburgh.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 11, 2020
With 69 points, reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Nikita Kucherov leads the way for Tampa offensively, while Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 29 wins leads all NHL goaltenders.
The Best Bet
With the Penguins shuffling their lineup to accommodate the new arrival, look for Tampa to continue its winning ways, particularly given its recent win streak and its 18-8-3 road record so far this season.
Pick: Tampa Bay Lightning ML (-110), spread +1.5 (-300)
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