NHL betting tips: 3 picks and predictions for Wednesday
Our expert has picked out three teams to back on the money line as the first round of the NHL playoffs continues on Wednesday.
The gaffe that Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry made to end Game 5, sending a perfect pass to Islanders forward Justin Bailey who had the whole net to shoot at, can impact the team in a few different ways. For Jarry, it could be a confidence-shattering moment that pressures him to do too much in an attempt to make amends for his error. It could also motivate the Penguins’ stars to try to pick up their goaltender and make sure the series goes back to Pittsburgh.
Those are guesses, though. What is real is that the Penguins are on the brink of elimination, heading into a building where the Islanders have been awfully difficult to beat. On home ice, between the playoffs and regular season, the Islanders have won 22 of 30 games. They have yet to lose when rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin starts in the postseason as well.
Pittsburgh is the owner of three of the eight wins road teams have earned in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and have never needed a bigger effort than the one that will be required Wednesday night. What has to be frustrating for Pittsburgh is that they’ve dominated possession and scoring chances at five-on-five in the last two games in particular. It’s not even close and it hasn’t mattered a bit.
The X-factor for New York has been Sorokin. He has a .951 save percentage, stopping 116 of the 122 he has faced in the three starts he’s made. The Penguins have not been able to figure him out on a consistent enough basis to pick up wins. With the Islanders having the distinct advantage in goaltending and having the benefit of home ice, I think the series ends Wednesday.
Spencer Knight was a miracle worker in his first playoff start, stopping 36 of 37 as the Panthers offense woke up for the 4-1 win. It was a great game on home ice for the Panthers, staving off elimination and giving the home crowd something to cheer about. However, as the series shifts back to Tampa, it’s going to be awfully difficult for the Cats to beat the Bolts in two straight.
Two straight losses has been a rare occurrence for the Lightning and, with a rookie goaltender in the other net, it might be hard for Knight to beat the Lightning twice. Tampa has too many weapons to not start converting. They actually carried the scoring chance battle at five-on-five in the last game and it’s only a matter of time before those pucks go in for one of the most loaded offensive teams in the league.
I’ve been tracking Knight for years as a prospect and to see him step in and be unfazed by the stage was no surprise. He won’t even be fazed by being the road goalie for the first time in his Stanley Cup Playoffs career. While he could be a difference-maker, I don’t believe he will have enough to be the difference in this game as Tampa looks to end the series on home ice.
Despite outshooting the Wild 40-14 in Game 5, the Golden Knights only managed two goals while the Wild had four. That’s the way hockey can go sometimes. That was the third game of the series where Vegas had at least 40 shots on goal, and they lost two of those games.
Vegas has been the better team for most of the series and you can even say they were the better team in the game they just lost, but now as the series shifts to Minnesota, the Wild have to prove they can win two in a row, which they haven’t done yet in the series. The last time Minnesota was on home ice they outplayed the Golden Knights for large stretches but ended up without a goal because Marc-Andre Fleury was simply better.
That’s the thing that should scare Minnesota as they head back to St. Paul. Fleury has been the best player in this series. He has a .946 save percentage and 1.40 goals-against average. He had a rough start in Game 5, with a poor first period being the difference in the game. The chances that happens again are slim. In starts where Fleury posted a sub-.900 save percentage, there was only one occasion where he followed that up with a second consecutive sub-.900 save percentage. The .769 he put up in Game 5 was the lowest of the season. Don’t bet against a Fleury bounce-back because it’s what he’s done all season long.
As unlikely as it feels for all three series to end on Wednesday night, that’s what I’m going with for today’s bet slip.