Devils Show Some Life, Now Try to Even Series vs. Lightning

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 2:19 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 2:19 PM UTC

The Eastern Conference eighth-seeded New Jersey Devils have life and look to even their series against No. 1 Tampa Bay on Wednesday night in Newark.

Game 4: Tampa Bay (2-1) at New Jersey (1-2)Free NHL Pick: DevilsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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We have been guaranteed that the first-round Eastern Conference playoff series between the top-seeded Lightning and No. 8 Devils will return to Tampa. First things first, however, as Game 4 of the series is Wednesday night from Newark with New Jersey looking to even it up at 2-2. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m. ET on the Golf Network. Yes, you read that right. The Golf Network. I guess CNBC had other plans on Wednesday

No one should have expected a sweep here despite the seeding disparity. First off, No. 8s beat No. 1s all the time in the NHL. Second, New Jersey won all three regular-season meetings over Tampa Bay. Third, Devils coach John Hynes made the smart call to switch goaltenders for Game 3.

Tampa Bay is still the +225 favorite to win the East on the NHL futures. New Jersey is +2500. The Lightning are -909 on the Sports Interaction series line.

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Home Cooking So Far

The home team is 17-5 in the past 22 meetings overall and 3-0 in this series. The Lightning scored five goals each in Games 1 & 2 in Tampa in fairly easy wins. During Game 2, Hynes pulled a struggling Keith Kinkaid – who had been so fabulous otherwise since late January – and replaced him with former starter Cory Schneider.

Schneider didn’t allow a goal in his relief effort, and you could read the tea leaves that he would start Game 3. He did and stopped 34 of 36 shots in a 5-2 victory – it was Schneider’s first win since Dec. 27 (to be fair, he missed about six weeks soon after due to injury). There’s zero question it will be Schneider in there Wednesday.

New Jersey did trail 2-1 early in the third after Steven Stamkos scored on the power play, but rookie Will Butcher evened it up on the man advantage at 4:03 of the third and Stefan Noesen scored the eventual winner at 12:55. Blake Coleman (short-handed at 19:02) and Ben Lovejoy (19:22) added the icing on the cake. Taylor Hall was the No. 1 star with a goal and two assists, showing why he’s a Hart Trophy candidate.

I don’t think it’s panic time for the Lightning, they just faced a more desperate team. Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed three goals on 39 shots, while Stamkos and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist. Killorn is just the second player in Lightning history to score at least one goal in each of the first three playoff games, joining Vincent Lecavalier. Nikita Kucherov had two assists and now has six points in the series. The Lightning scored both their goals on the power play and now have five such in this series; they just took too many dumb penalties in Game 3, giving the Devils seven power-play chances.

The Bolts seem to never play well in New Jersey, going just 5-17 in their past 22 there. They are 1-4 in their past five on the road dating to the regular season, while the Devils have won four straight at home. Take New Jersey to win Game 4 for a Wednesday NHL pick and even this series.

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