Something Has to Give as High-Flying Lightning Visit Stingy Sharks

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 6:44 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 6:44 PM UTC

It’s always tough for an Eastern Conference team to make that three-game trek through California, and the Tampa Bay Lightning start theirs Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET) at surging San Jose.

Free NHL Picks: Sharks & Under 5.5Best Lines Offered: BetOnline

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Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks (-115, 5.5)

It’s a 10:30 p.m. ET puck drop on the NBC Sports Network from the SAP Center – or Shark Tank – on Wednesday as the offensively potent Lightning visit the defensively proficient Sharks in their first meeting of the season.

Tampa Bay (11-2-2) leads the NHL with 24 points and is first in the Eastern Conference with a plus-17 goal differential. The Bolts also are No. 1 in scoring at 3.9 goals per game while ranking second on the power play (28.8 percent). They have the best 1-2 offensive punch in the league with the NHL’s top two scorers in Steven Stamkos (25 points) and Nikita Kucherov (23 points). Stamkos is No. 1 with 18 assists and Kucherov first with 14 goals.

The Lightning’s only two regulation losses were Oct. 7 at Florida in the second of a back-to-back and 4-1 at home to Anaheim on Oct. 28. They will be well-rested for this one as Tampa last played on Saturday and beat Columbus 5-4 in a shootout. Stamkos had a power-play goal in regulation and the lone goal during the shootout. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves. He owns an 11-1-1 record with a 2.52 goals-against-average and a .925 save percentage.

I’m going to presume that Vasilevskiy plays here, and I say that because the Bolts visit the Kings on Thursday night and it would be unusual for any goalie to play both ends of a back-to-back. His backup is Peter Budaj, who is just 0-1-1 with a 4.00 GAA and .855 save percentage. Budaj used to play for the Kings, so I tend to think he would go there.

The Sharks (8-5-0) are the hottest team in the Western Conference with a four-game winning streak. They also have been off since Saturday, a 2-1 home shootout win over the Ducks. Joonas Donskoi had the deciding goal in the sixth round of the shootout. Martin Jones made 25 saves to win for the seventh time in eight starts.

San Jose ranks second in the NHL in goals-against at 2.3 per game and second on the penalty kill at 89.6 percent so something will have to give here. In the last 12 games, San Jose has allowed opponents only two power play goals and has a penalty kill rate of 95 percent. Jones is having a terrific season with a 7-3-0 record and 1.98 GAA. He was named the league’s third star of last week.


The Verdict

The Sharks won both meetings last year, 3-1 in Tampa and 2-1 in San Jose. The Bolts are just 4-12 in the past 16 meetings overall. Jones is rolling, and the Lightning have to play again 24 hours later. San Jose and the ‘under’ is the parlay NHL betting choice. The ‘under’ is 6-0 in San Jose’s past six.

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