Tampa Bay Lightning at Chicago Blackhawk

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Tampa Bay continues to win as the Lightning have won five straight and are now tied for first in the Central division with Carolina Hurricanes. Tampa Bay is 15-4-1 with 31 points. Tampa has had two consecutive shutout victories over Dallas winning the first 5-0 followed by a 2-0 win on Tuesday. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped all 28 shots he faced in net to post his third consecutive shutout and has not given up a goal in 200 minutes. Following its shutout victory over Dallas, Toronto is allowing an average of only 1.95 goals per game this season.

Chicago has played its way into fourth place in the Central Division two points behind third-place Florida and three points behind both Tampa Bay and Carolina. The Blackhawks have won three of the last four including a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Patrick Kane scored his 400th goal in the NHL in the victory. The Blackhawks are combining strong play in the attacking zone averaging 3.13 goals per game and solid play at the blue line and between the pipes allowing an average of 2.87 goals per game.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is the NHL’s best

The Tampa Bay Lightning are allowing an average of only 1.95 goals-per-game. The Tampa Bay blue line has played impressively in front of goal, but the big reason for the success of the Lightning is goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. The Russian netminder has posted three consecutive shutouts and has not allowed the puck to get past him in over 200 minutes. Vasilevskiy is 13-3-1 with a 1.65 goals-against average and .942 save percentage. Opponents have scored only 28 goals in Vasilevskiy’s 17 appearances. The penalty kill unit for Tampa Bay has been successful 88.6% of the time while shorthanded.

Tampa Bay is no slouch in the attacking zone as the Lightning are averaging 3.55 goals per game led by Steven Stamkos with 10. Close behind Stamkos is Ondrej Palat with nine goals. Stamkos is tied with Victor Hedman for the overall points lead for Tampa Bay with 20 each and Hedman is the leader in assists for Tampa Bay with 16. Tampa Bay has scored 18 power-play goals paced by Palat with six. The power-play unit for Tampa Bay is scoring 26.5% of the time with the man advantage.

Injury Report: Mitchell Stephens is out until mid-April, while Marion Gaborik, Nikita Kucherov and Anders Nilsson are all out indefinitely.

Kane reaches another milestone

The Chicago Blackhawks are having a strong start to their 2021 NHL season in much of that is thanks to the play of veteran Patrick Kane. Kane scored his 400th career goal on Sunday in the Blackhawks 7-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Kane became the 100th player in the NHL to score 400 goals and is the fourth player in Chicago’s franchise history to reach that milestone following Hall of Famers Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull and former star Steve Larmer. This season Kane is leading Chicago in goals scored with 11, in assists with 23 and overall points with 34.

The blue line and goalkeepers are doing their share as well as Chicago is allowing an average of only 2.87 goals per game and the penalty-kill unit has a success rate of 75.0% when shorthanded. Kevin Lankinen is 9-3-3 with a 2.55 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 15 appearances in goal for Chicago. Lankinen and backup Malcolm Subban each have posted one shutout this season for the Blackhawks.

Injury Report: Chicago has a laundry list of injuries. The most notable being Dylan Strome who is questionable for Thursday with a concussion, Jonathan Toews who is out indefinitely and Brent Seabrook who is out indefinitely. Also included on the list are Lucas Carlsson, Kirby Bach, and Andrew Shaw.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

Tampa Bay should be favored to win each and every game that Andrei Vasilevskiy is between the pipes. The Russian netminder is the best in the NHL at this time and has a goals-against average on the season of just 1.65 while saving 94.2% of the shots he faces in net. Vasilevskiy has not allowed a goal in over 200 minutes and has three consecutive shutouts to his credit. Tampa Bay has won 10 of the last 11 meetings with Chicago and each of the last four played on Chicago’s home ice. The Lightning have won each of their last five overall and 59 of the last 81 dating back to last season.

Tampa Bay Lightning -210

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Full-Game Total Pick

Tampa Bay is allowing an average of only 1.95 goals-per-game and the total has finished under in five of Tampa Bay’s last six overall. When these two meet on the ice, the total is finished under 13 of the last 20 and in 10 of the last 12 that have been played on Chicago’s home ice. With Vasilevskiy in net, the odds are good the total will finish under as the Russian netminder is allowing an average of only 1.65 goals per game.