Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets odds, picks and prediction
The Tampa Bay Lightning (3-0-0) and Columbus Blue Jackets (1-2-2) meet for the second time in three days at Nationwide Arena Saturday afternoon. The matinee puck drop will be at 2 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay came away with a 3-2 overtime win Thursday. Below, we analyze the Lightning-Blue Jackets NHL odds and lines, with picks and predictions.
Lightning at Blue Jackets: Odds, spread and lines
- Money line : Lightning -165 (bet $165 to win $100) | Blue Jackets +140 (bet $100 to win $140)
- Against the spread/ATS : Lightning -1.5 (+165) | Blue Jackets +1.5 (-200)
- Over/Under : 5.5 (O: -115 | U: -105)
Lightning at Blue Jackets: Projected starting goalies
Andrei Vasilevskiy (3-0-0, .941 SV%, 1.65 GAA) vs. Elvis Merzlikins (0-1-1, .867 SV%, 4.01 GAA)
Vasilevskiy has started all three games for the Lightning but certainly doesn't seem in need of a rest. He has stopped 80 of 85 total shots. Thursday's win was a continuation of his strong play against the Jackets after he stopped 160 of 172 shots against them last postseason.
Merzlikins is expected to get the nod for Game 2 against the Bolts after No. 1 starter Joonas Korpisalo stopped 34 of 37 shots in Thursday's OT loss. Merzlikins last played Tuesday and stopped 24 of 27 shots in an overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
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Lightning at Blue Jackets: Odds, betting lines, predictions and picks
Lightning 5, Blue Jackets 1
Money line (ML)
The LIGHTNING (-165) are the play with more value than there should be in this money line price. They outshot the Jackets 37-25 Thursday with goals from three different players.
Tampa Bay also dominated the analytics battle, registering more total shot attempts (including blocked and missed shots) and scoring chances at 5-on-5. The reigning champs are looking the part, even without RW Nikita Kucherov, and will keep rolling Saturday.
The Jackets reportedly traded the disgruntled Pierre-Luc Dubois for Winnipeg Jets W Patrik Laine and C Jack Roslovic Saturday. The deal will help Columbus in the long run when those players are activated, but the shake-up won't help matters much against the top-flight Lightning Saturday.
Against the spread (ATS)
Dating back to last postseason, the Jackets have proven capable of hanging with the Lightning, but largely due to elite goaltending. The recent distractions could prove too much for those remaining in the Columbus lineup, especially against an opponent like Tampa Bay.
Take the LIGHTNING -1.5 (+165) to win by at least 2 goals, and give some thought to the alternate line of -2.5 (+290) for a real payday.
We'll need the Lightning to do most of the work but take the OVER 5.5 (-115). Merzlikins hasn't looked as sharp as he was last season.
The rampant distractions in Columbus coupled with the mid-afternoon start time are likely to result in some sloppy play at the defensive end for the home team.
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