Two of the top Central Division teams collide Monday night in Raleigh as the Carolina Hurricanes host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Carolina has won both of their previous meetings, and each win came via the shutout (1-0 in overtime in January, 4-0 on Saturday).
Despite the recent history, the Lightning are favorites at (-122). Meanwhile, Carolina is (+106) on the moneyline. Puck drop is at 7:00 P.M. Eastern.
Tampa Bay Lightning (10-4-1) Preview
Tampa Bay has lost back-to-back games for the second time this season. The Lightning haven’t lost three straight since they dropped four in a row between February 20-27 of 2020, so the defending champs shouldn’t be hitting the panic button yet.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is the likely starter Monday. Vasilevskiy has a 9-3-1 record this season with a 2.01 goals against average and a .931 save percentage. He was in net for both of the losses to Carolina.
Anthony Cirelli is still week-to-week with an upper-body injury. Cirelli was having an excellent season before the injury, scoring four goals and six assists in 12 games. Despite having missed the last three games, he still leads all Tampa Bay forwards in shorthanded time on ice; however, the team has stepped up in his absence. Their 86.3% penalty kill ranks fifth in the NHL.
One of the most potent offenses in the league, Tampa Bay’s 3.60 goals per game ranks third in the NHL. Brayden Point (six goals, 10 assists), Steven Stamkos (eight goals, seven assists), and Victor Hedman (three goals, 12 assists) are all on a point-per-game pace or better.
Carolina Hurricanes (12-3-1) Preview
The Hurricanes are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Carolina has won five of their past six games, and that lone loss came in overtime.
One of the biggest reasons for that success has been their depth scoring. The second line of Nino Niederreiter, Vincent Trocheck, and Martin Necas has combined for 20 goals and 18 assists, making them one of the most productive lines in the league.
That depth has taken pressure of the top line, though the Hurricanes’ stars have certainly put up points as well. Andrei Svechnikov (seven goals, nine assists) and Sebastian Aho (six goals, 10 assists) are tied for the team lead in points.
Teuvo Teravainen (two goals, seven assists) is out until at least Wednesday with an upper-body injury.
Alex Nedeljkovic is the expected starter between the pipes Monday. Nedeljkovic shut out the Lighting on Saturday and has a 2-1-1 record this year. He also sports a 2.44 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
On To the Pick
Beating any team three times in a row is tough. It’s even more difficult when that team is the defending Stanley Cup Champion.
However, Tampa Bay has been shut out twice in their last 98 games, and both of those shutouts came against the Hurricanes. Something Carolina does has made the Lightning ineffective. Getting the Canes as an underdog in this one is even more appetizing.
Take Carolina at (+106) and expect them to walk away winners Monday night.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Carolina Hurricanes (+106)