NHL Betting Preview (April 17): Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Predictions

It’s the last game of the regular season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and their matchup is set. An unexpected shift in the standings has given them a new opponent to plan for, but before they can do that, they’ll have one more game to get through, against one of last year’s playoff opponents in the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

TOR +104
TBL -125

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The Maple Leafs are slight road underdogs, coming in at +104 to +113 on the moneyline.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Best Odds

Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds+113 @ Pinnacle
Lightning Moneyline Odds-125 @ bet365
Puckline oddsMaple Leafs +1.5 (-213) @ Proline+
Lightning -1.5 (+196) @ Pinnacle
Total Over 6.5 goals (-102) @ Betano
Under 6.5 goals (-103) @ Pinnacle
Time/DateApril 17, 7:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: Sportsnet
Stream: Sportsnet+
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

Betting Toronto Maple Leafs (46-25-10 SU, 33-49 ATS, 44-35-2 o/u)

Tuesday night was a joyous occasion for Maple Leafs fans, so long as they stopped watching the game at the first intermission. Things originally went pretty well for the blue and white, with Gustav Forsling’s cross-checking penalty sending Toronto to an early power play, which John Tavares was quick to cash in on with a deflection of a Mitch Marner shot. After surviving a confusing penalty kill of their own, they added another tally via Noah Gregor, who potted his first goal since December.

From there, though, things could only go downhill, and they did. Carter Verhaeghe, a late addition to the Florida lineup, made it a 2-1 game just 28 seconds into the second period, and slightly past the midway mark, Sam Bennett tied the game. Just 10 seconds after that, the Panthers won the faceoff, went down the ice, and took the lead off Sam Reinhart’s 56th of the year, and three minutes after that, were suddenly up 4-2. What’s worse was the shot count – Toronto was pummelled by a 29-4 margin in the second, one of the most lopsided performances ever recorded in the league for a single period.

The third was a little bit tighter, including a near-miss for Auston Matthews that would’ve given him his 70th goal. The push seemed to remain on the team’s mind last night and while forcing plays to No. 34 was far from their only problem, it was a contributing factor on a couple of wasted chances. Reinhart added an empty-netter to cap off the evening for Florida, taking a great Toronto start and turning it into a huge disappointment.

Because of that and a win from the Ottawa Senators Tuesday, Toronto will no longer have to worry about a Panthers rematch in the playoffs, at least for now. They’ll be taking on the Boston Bruins, regardless of Wednesday’s outcome.

Betting Tampa Bay Lightning (44-29-8 SU, 42-39 ATS, 38-37-6 o/u)

On the other side, this is an opportunity for the Lightning to get themselves back into gear before they head into the playoffs, where they will be the ones facing the Panthers. This means that if Toronto can get past the Bruins, they’re guaranteed to face a frenemy from the last postseason.

The Lightning likely won’t carry much all-out desperation in this one with their standings spot and opponent both locked in, but like the Leafs, they’ll want to go in with some momentum. Tampa has lost four of their last five despite a pretty generous closing schedule, with Toronto being the only team in the top third in the standings on their schedule in their final 10 games.

Like the Leafs with Matthews, they’ve also got a player chasing milestones on the other side. Nikita Kucherov can solidify his second Art Ross Trophy with a couple more points Wednesday, having put up a blistering 43 goals and 99 assists this year. Another helper would put him with Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Connor McDavid as the only players to get 100 in a season, so he’ll likely be pushing to get that accomplished.

Last Matchup

These two teams faced each other just two weeks ago, with the Lightning taking a 4-1 win on April 3rd. Auston Matthews scored his 63rd of the season on a late first-period power play, but the game was otherwise in Tampa’s control, with an opening goal scored midway through the first and the eventual game-winner coming off of Brayden Point’s stick early in the second. Their top players were all involved, with goals from Point, Victor Hedman, and Steven Stamkos, two assists from Brandon Hagel, and three helpers from Nikita Kucherov.

Projected Lightning and Leafs Lines

Today’s Toronto Maple Leafs LinesToday’s Tampa Bay Lightning Lines
Tyler Bertuzzi – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner
Matthew Knies – John Tavares – William Nylander
Nick Robertson – Pontus Holmberg – Noah Gregor
Connor Dewar – David Kampf – Ryan Reaves

Morgan Rielly – Ilya Lyubushkin
Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
Joel Edmundson – Timothy Liljegren

Starting In Goal
Martin Jones
11-7-1, 2.70 GAA, 0.908 SV%
Anthony Duclair – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos
Michael Eyssimont – Nick Paul – Mitchell Chaffee
Tanner Jeannot – Luke Glendening – Conor Sheary

Victor Hedman – Darren Raddysh
Nick Perbix – Erik Cernak
Emil Lilleberg – Matt Dumba

Starting In Goal
Matt Tomkins
2-2-1, 3.91 GAA, 0.891 SV%

Sheldon Keefe was asked about whether Auston Matthews would get one more shot at 70 on Wednesday, and he played it cool, saying the Leafs had 12 healthy forwards available to them which implies not much change. That’s what we’re going with right now until further notice, with the skaters staying the same. Jon Cooper implied this morning that the Lightning might play with a short roster today, with injuries they’d like to heal and not a lot of incentive to go 110% today.

Auston Matthews to score a goal


Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Injury Concerns

The Maple Leafs are the same as they were yesterday, waiting for the returns of Calle Jarnkrok, Max Domi, and Bobby McMann. While unlikely to play in the playoffs, Matt Murray can be added to this list too, as he’s getting conditioning reps in with the Marlies.

The Lightning are without Mikhail Sergachev (LTIR, leg), Tyler Motte (day-to-day, lower body), and Jonas Johansson (day-to-day, lower body).

  • The Maple Leafs have won the lion’s share of recent games against Tampa Bay, posting a 7-3 record in the last 10 games going back to last April. While the Bolts have the last victory, this includes wins in five of the last seven for Toronto. The Lightning have the puckline edge at 6-4, and the total goals over has hit in six of 10.
  • The Maple Leafs are 6-4 in their last 10 games and have split the puckline and total goals lines at a 5-5 margin.
  • The Lightning are 5-5 in their last 10 games, splitting the puckline by an identical record. Against the total goals line, they have three overs, five unders, and two pushes.
  • For the last time this regular season, Auston Matthews leads the way for the Maple Leafs in goals (10), points (14) and shots on goal (51) over their last 10 games. Mitch Marner leads the team in assists, with eight.
  • William Nylander’s struggles are beginning to become more apparent, with no goals, three assists, and 29 shots on goal in his past 10.
  • In Tampa Bay’s last 10 games, Steven Stamkos is bringing himself back to 2012, scoring a team-leading 11 goals on a similarly-leading 50 shots on goal. Nikita Kucherov leads the team in assists and points, with an absurd 17 and 19 respectively.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Predictions

This is going to be a difficult game to do much with, with both teams locked in. They’d both enjoy the moral victory, but neither wants to get banged up. Of course, we have two major milestones that are in sink-or-swim mode, so let’s look at them.

  • First, and most obviously to our regular readers, we have Auston Matthews’ push for 70 goals. The end of his eight-game streak left him shut out yesterday, giving him one last chance to secure rarified air tonight. Matthews has eight goals in his last seven games against the Lightning. Ideally, the Leafs just let it happen instead of forcing it to him on every play – he’ll find his moment in the flow of it all. Betano has the best odds available at -118.
  • On Tampa’s end, Nikita Kucherov needs just one assist tonight to hit the century mark. The best value in that regard can be found at theScore Bet or DraftKings, both offering him at -200.
  • Want to combine them both? Your price will depend on the platform – I found a Kucherov assist and a Matthews goal together at bet365 for +155. I wouldn’t be shocked if this ends up being boosted at some point today, so keep an eye on their market.

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