Cruising to the Stanley Cup championship in the Canadian bubble last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning are well-equipped to win games on the road. They won the first two games of their opening round series against Florida on the road and snatched Game 1 of the second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes on enemy ice. They may not win Game 2 on Tuesday, but the Lightning aren’t going to be satisfied with a split. They know all too well the rigors of winning the Stanley Cup.
This NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game takes place on Tuesday, June 1, 2021 and will air live on NBCSN with puck drop at 7:30 p.m. ET from PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Carolina Hurricanes Odds
Money Line: Tampa Bay Lightning -110 | Carolina Hurricanes -110
Puck Line: Tampa Bay Lightning +1.5 -280 | Carolina Hurricanes -1.5 +230
Series to Date
Game 1 was just another indication of how closely matched these teams are. One break could make all the difference between victory and defeat and the Lightning got the break on Sunday when Canes goalie Alex Nedeljkovic misplayed a shot that resulted in the game-winner.
The teams split the eight-game regular season series with Carolina outscoring Tampa 18-17 and the UNDER going 6-1-1 in those games. Three contests were decided by one goal and three others were shutout wins with the Canes getting two of those. And the opening odds are another indicator that this game and series is a tossup with no clear favorite. Tampa closed as a negative odds favorite in Game 1 showing that they can play defense, too.
Carolina isn’t used to losing on home ice. The Canes went 20-3-5 at PNC Arena during the regular season and won all three games against Nashville in the first round with a plus-7 goal differential. They also won three of four regular season home meetings with the Lightning. But the playoffs are a different story and Tampa is a seasoned group. There is little margin for error and the Canes could be feeling the pressure after losing home ice advantage.
Tampa Bay Lightning
For a team loaded with fire power a lesser known player provided the difference in Game 1. Barclay Goodrow scored the game-winner, just his first of the playoffs and seventh in 57 games the entire season. “The puck had eyes, obviously. But good things happen when you shoot the puck. That was a good example of it,” teammate Victor Hedman said of the game-winner. While the Lightning caught a break on the seeing-eye shot, Andrei Vasilevskiy was nearly perfect in net. Tampa weathered an early onslaught with the netminder making 15 saves in the first period. The only blemish was a power play goal early in the third.
While Tampa has an explosive offense with guys like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Hedman, they can also play a smothering brand of defense. Vasilevskiy was one of the top goalies during the season posting a 2.21 GAA and .925 save percentage. He pitched a shutout to seal the first round win over Florida and boasts a .935 save percentage in the postseason. Tampa will rely on their goalie since they average just 2.1 goals per game against the Canes in nine this season.
The Canes didn’t get down on themselves when they dropped a pair of heart-stopping double overtime games to Nashville in the first round. Instead they rallied to win the next two to move on. So they aren’t going to cry over what happened Sunday. Constantly playing from behind can take a toll on a team, though. The Canes allowed the first goal in Game 1, the sixth time in seven games they allowed the opening tally. And the teams’ ability to comeback took a hit with Nino Niederreiter described as “very, very doubtful” by Rod Brind’Amour to return for the series. Niederreiter scored 20 goals during the season to rank second on the club.
Despite his gaffe in Game 1 that cost the game, Nedeljkovic has taken over as the Canes top netminder. He played in just six games over the previous three seasons but blossomed this year sporting a 1.90 GAA and .932 save percentage while going 15-5-3. He’s played every minute this postseason and Brind’Amour is sticking with him. “It’s no use hiding it … it was a bad goal. He made a lot of good saves, too. That’s part of it. We’ll bounce back and he’ll bounce back. We’ve got to score more than one to win anyway,” the coach said.
Lightning at Hurricanes Prediction
Our best bets: Tampa Bay Lightning -110 and UNDER 5.5
Facing the defending champs is a lot different than eliminating Nashville. The Canes, and specifically Nedeljkovic, will start to feel the pressure. Tampa has more offensive weapons and Carolina’s ability to come from behind is impacted by the loss of a 20-goal scorer. I also expect the Lightning to be more aggressive offensively leading to more chances and eventually more goals.
Check out today’s NHL odds.