Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Free Preview

In a game between two squads that have put themselves squarely in the playoff picture, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Columbus Blue Jackets take the ice at Nationwide Arena in an Eastern Conference tilt. The action gets underway at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 31 and it can be seen live on Fox Sports Ohio.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Odds

Tampa Bay (-135) is currently favored over Columbus (+115), and the Over/Under (O/U) is set at 6 goals. The line for betting that total stands at -105 for the over and -115 on the under.

Tampa Bay is 27-10 straight up (SU) and has earned moneyline bettors 12.6 units this season. Through 37 regular season outings, 22 of its games have gone over the total, while 15 have gone under and none have pushed. The Bolts are 11-6 SU as the away team in 2017-18.

Tampa Bay currently has the first-strongest power-play unit in the NHL, as it’s converted on 26.1 percent of its extra-man opportunities this year. Its penalty kill is ranked 25th out of 31 teams, and it’s successfully killed off only 78.4 percent of its penalties.

For the team as a whole, Tampa Bay has been sent to the penalty box 4.2 times per game overall in the 2017-18 season, and 5.4 per game over its last five on the road. The team has been forced to defend opponent power plays 12.0 minutes per game over their last five road outings.

Averaging 28.7 saves per game with a .934 save percentage, Andrei Vasilevskiy (24-7-1) has been the best option in goal for Tampa Bay this year. If it decides to rest him, however, Tampa Bay may go with Peter Budaj (3-4-1), who has a .878 save percentage and 3.80 goals against average this year.

The visiting Lightning will be led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos. Kucherov (54 points) has tallied 24 goals and 30 assists, and has recorded two or more points 18 times. Stamkos has 16 goals and 32 assists to his nameand has registered a point in 25 games.

On the other side of the ice, Columbus is 22-17 straight up (SU) and has earned moneyline bettors 0.8 units this season. Through 39 regular season matches, 19 of its games have gone over the total, while another 19 have gone under and just one has pushed. This season, the team is 14-6 SU at home.

Columbus has converted on just 12.1 percent of its power play opportunities this season, a mark that’s ranked 30th in the NHL. On the other hand, its penalty kill is ranked 15th overall, and it’s successfully killed off 81.0 percent of all penalties.

Columbus skaters have been called for penalties only 3.1 times per game in total this season, and 4.2 per game over their last ten games. The teams been forced to defend opponent power plays 8.8 minutes per game over their last five home outings.

Sergei Bobrovsky (28.0 saves per game) has been the primary choice in goal for Columbus. Bobrovsky has 18 wins, 14 losses, and three overtime losses to his credit and has maintained a .918 save percentage and 2.49 goals against average this year.

The Jackets will be led on offense by Artemi Panarin (10 goals, 24 assists).

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Betting Picks

Predictions: SU Winner – Blue Jackets, O/U – Under

Betting Notes

  • The total has gone over in three of Columbus last five games.
  • The Lightning are 16-4 when they serve fewer penalty minutes than their opponent and 14-4 in games where they’re in the penalty box for fewer than 10 total minutes.
  • Three of Columbus last ten games have been decided by a shootout. The team is 1-2 in those games and 4-3 overall in shootouts this season.
  • Columbus skaters have averaged 8.4 takeaways per game over its last five home games, a slight drop from its season average of 7.7 takeaways per game (ranked 13th overall).
  • Tampa Bay is ranked 16th in the league this season with 7.5 takeaways per game. That figure has trended down lately, however, as the team has averaged 6.7 takeaways over its last 10 games and 7.0 takeaways over its last five.