Lightning vs. Blue Jackets: Free Picks, Odds & Predictions

Lightning vs Blue Jackets NHL
Tampa Bay vs. Columbus, Amalie Arena

The Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a four-game skid with a surprising win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. The challenge is for Columbus to repeat the feat against an angry Lightning squad that has now lost three straight games. This is Tampa Bay’s longest losing streak of the season and every point counts as the race in the Central Division continues to stay tight at the top. Meanwhile, Columbus is trying to squeeze itself back into the playoff picture despite its recent struggles.

Free Picks

Ondrej Palat was one of the most consistent goal scorers for the Lightning through the first two months of the season, but that pace has fell off dramatically. He has scored just once in the last 10 games after never going more than four games without a goal this year. It has driven the odds on him scoring Thursday up to +220 at the hockey betting sites in New Jersey, though so it’s excellent value. It’s hard to bet that a goal scorer like Palat will stay off the scoresheet for such an extended period of time, so I’ll take the opposite approach and bet on him to break the streak in a big way against Columbus.

ONDREJ PALAT SCORES GOALS

This is actually a far riskier bet than many might anticipate given the mismatch between these two teams. Tampa Bay has scored more than three goals just once in its last 13 games against Columbus, including the postseason, and that was the series-clinching 5-4 overtime win in last year’s playoffs. Yet Tampa Bay has lost three straight games and I can only imagine how much energy and frustration the Lightning will have for Thursday’s game. Columbus has had Tampa Bay’s number for sure, but it doesn’t discount the fact the Blue Jackets had allowed at least three goals eight times in their previous 11 games before Tuesday’s win. I expect the Lightning to outbuzz Columbus and score in bunches, so I’ll take the +190 odds from the NHL betting sites in New Jersey.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING OVER 4 GOALS

I am surprised there isn’t better odds than +100 from the legal sports betting sites in New Jersey on Tampa Bay to win by multiple goals. You need to go back to the last regular-season meeting between the two teams during the 2018-19 season to find the last time Tampa Bay beat Columbus by more than one goal. Yet as I stated above, I expect a far angrier Lightning team to pound a weaker Blue Jackets team than the one who had played the Lightning in recent years. I don’t know if Columbus can get the same standout goaltending performance it has received in previous games against Tampa Bay to keep pace with the Lightning on Thursday.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING -1.5 GOALS

Best Odds

Tampa Bay Columbus
888Sport
-265 +210
FanDuel
-295 +245
BetMGM
-275 +230

Statistics

Head to Head

This is the fourth meeting of the season between Tampa Bay and Columbus after the Blue Jackets have taken five out of a possible six points from the first three contests with the Lightning this season.

Stats

  • Tampa Bay is fortunate that Columbus has the sixth-worst power play in the NHL with a 14.94 percent conversion rate. The Lightning have faced the second-most power plays with 121 power plays against and they rank second in the league with an average of 10.1 penalty minutes per game against them.
  • This might be a mismatch in shot totals as well with Columbus allowing the third-most shots in the league and Tampa Bay has allowed the seventh fewest. The Lightning, though, rank second in the NHL by scoring on 11.6 percent on their shots.
  • Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy leads the league with a .930 save percentage, which helps him lead the NHL in goals saved above average and goalie point shares.
  • Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand are tied for the team lead with 13 goals for Columbus, the only players on the Blue Jackets with at least 10 goals this season. Both of them scored in Tuesday’s win over the Lightning and both of them have three points in three games this season against Tampa Bay.

Our Prediction for Tampa Bay vs. Columbus

Tampa Bay Lightning to win

Tuesday’s result was quite a shock because the Columbus Blue Jackets entered the game on a four-game skid. But as we all know by now, Columbus is a dangerous matchup for the Tampa Bay Lightning since sweeping them in the 2018-19 playoffs. However, what we saw during last year’s postseason is that an angry Lightning team is a dangerous one to play, and this Tampa Bay team will be super focused on this game as it tries to end a three-game losing skid. Columbus has looked shaky outside Tuesday’s win, and I expect the Lightning to put into this game to stop the streak in its tracks Thursday night.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

All Reviews by Josh Walfish

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