NHL Betting Preview (April 3): Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Predictions

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff prep tour continues in the final weeks of the season, moving from a win over one of their 2023 playoff opponents in Florida, to a game against another postseason foe in the Tampa Bay Lightning. Wednesday could have major implications on the Atlantic Division standings, with the Maple Leafs still having an outside shot of catching Florida or Boston, and the Lightning still having a shot at catching Toronto. Tensions and energy will be high, and so will the hype before puck drop, so let’s dive right into the action.

Bet on Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

TOR -124
TBL +112

The Maple Leafs are home favourites, coming in at -124 on the moneyline.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Betting Odds

Maple Leafs Moneyline Odds-124 at Pinnacle
Lightning Moneyline Odds+112 @ FanDuel
Puckline oddsMaple Leafs -1.5 (+189 @ Pinnacle)
Lightning +1.5 (-205 @ FanDuel
Totalover 6.5 -108 @ Pinnacle
under 6.5 +100 @ bet365
Time/DateApril 3, 7:00 p.m. ET
TVBroadcast: Sportsnet, TVA Sports (French)
Stream: Sportsnet+
(How to watch the NHL in Canada?)

Betting Toronto Maple Leafs (43-22-9 SU, 30-44 ATS, 40-32-2 o/u)

As mentioned in the intro, it was a good night on Monday for the Maple Leafs, though there was a bit of nervous reservation towards the end. With an opportunity to close ground on the recently slumping Panthers, Toronto scored a pair of goals just 33 seconds apart in the back half of the first period, getting a second consecutive contribution from Nick Robertson, and a well-positioned tap-in from Auston Matthews for his 61st of the season. Florida came back with a goal of their own in the opening minute of the second frame but was met with three unanswered Toronto tallies, widening the lead to 5-1 at the 40-minute mark.

The Panthers didn’t go away easily, though. Trade deadline acquisition Vladimir Tarasenko led the comeback push, scoring his 22nd of the year at the two-minute mark and setting up both Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett later in the period to bring the game to a 5-4 score. Leafs fans braced themselves for the worst with a little over 100 seconds left on the clock, but Matthews made a strong defensive play with 45 seconds to go and rewarded himself with an empty-net dagger.

While Toronto would prefer to not leave room for nervous tension in the future, the majority of the game ran in their favour and that’s something they’d like to carry with them. They played the Panthers both heavier and faster than they did in the postseason and were able to open up the game as a result. Whether that would repeat itself in an increasingly probable rematch remains to be seen, but it’s still a positive building block.

Betting Tampa Bay Lightning (41-26-7 SU, 39-35 ATS, 35-35-4 o/u)

While the Lightning currently sit in a wild-card position, only a fool would write them off in the spring given their success in recent years. Much of the group that won back-to-back Stanley Cups and went to three consecutive Stanley Cup Finals are still here. In typical Bolts fashion, they’re heating up as the end of the regular season nears. Since the beginning of March, the team has posted a 9-2-1 record, only losing in regulation to Calgary and Detroit.

Unsurprisingly, it’s those returning core pieces leading the way for them. Nikita Kucherov has 23 points across that 12-game run, with only one game where he skipped the scoresheet. His 127 points on the year are over 40 ahead of second on the team and provide a great argument for him in the MVP race. He’s already set a career-high in goals, and two more points will set a new best in that department as well. Steven Stamkos had 16 points in that stretch, Brayden Point has 11 goals in his last 11 games, Victor Hedman is producing from the blue line and Andrei Vasilevskiy has turned a corner since the trade deadline, reversing one of the weaker years of his career and going back to his elite self.

Needless to say, “just a wild-card team” would be an opponent’s famous last words right now. The Maple Leafs will need to bring their best tonight – and arguably even more than what they brought against them in the playoffs last year – if they want to have clear control of the evening.

Last Matchup

This game back in November was chaos in a bottle for both teams. Matthew Knies opened the scoring for Toronto just three and a half minutes in and gave Toronto the lead for a whole 35 seconds. Victor Hedman tied things up for Tampa, and by the end of the period, Nikita Kucherov had added two more goals and Brayden Point had extended the Lightning’s lead to three. In the second and early third, Toronto scored four unanswered of their own, including a pair from Auston Matthews, only for Brandon Hagel to equalize for the opponents with two and a half minutes in regulation.

In overtime, Calle Jarnkrok potted his third goal of the season and the game-winner.

Projected Lightning and Leafs Lines

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

Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe
TJ Brodie – Ilya Lyubushkin
Morgan Rielly – Conor Timmins

Starting In Goal
Joseph Woll
11-9-1, 2.87 GAA, 0.910 SV%
Anthony Duclair – Brayden Point – Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel – Anthony Cirelli – Steven Stamkos
Michael Eyssimont – Nick Paul – Mitchell Chaffee
Tanner Jeannot – Luke Glendening – Tyler Motte

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

Starting In Goal
Andrei Vasilevskiy
28-17-2, 2.86 GAA, 0.900 SV%

The Maple Leafs aren’t expected to make many changes. The forward group should remain the same as last game. The defensive pairs will likely be different from the above, but we do know that Morgan Rielly is coming back into the lineup for Mark Giordano.

Tampa Bay is running more or less their healthy lineup, with the usual mix of core superstars, familiar deadline adds (this year’s edition featuring Duclair and Dumba), and a few guys you’ve never heard of but will inevitably do something when you least expect it (looking at you, Mitchell Chaffee).

Auston Matthews to score a goal


Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Injury Concerns

The Maple Leafs are getting a reinforcement tonight in Morgan Rielly, returns from an upper-body injury. Mitch Marner is trending towards potentially coming back later this week, but isn’t there yet.

Mikhail Sergachev is Tampa Bay’s lone injury of note, still a long way away from returning from tibia and fibula surgery.

  • While it certainly doesn’t feel that way for some, the Maple Leafs have won eight of the last 10 games between these two teams, dating back to January 2022. That includes the last three games between the two sides.
  • The puckline has been split across those games 5-5, and the total goals line has hit the over six times, the under three times, and pushed once.
  • The Maple Leafs are 6-4 in their last 10 games and a rare 8-2 against the puckline. They’ve cleared the total goals over seven times.
  • The Lightning are 8-2 in their last 10 games and also 8-2 against the puckline. They’ve split the total goals line with five overs and five unders.
  • Auston Matthews’ molten run continues, as he now leads the Leafs in goals (eight), assists (10), points (18), and shots on goal (55) in their last 10 games. This is one of his best stretches of the season.
  • Also doing well for the Leafs we have John Tavares (4G 8A in their last 10), William Nylander (6G 5A), and Tyler Bertuzzi (7G 2A)
  • Leading the way for the Lightning is Nikita Kucherov, who in Tampa’s last 10 games has four goals and a whopping 17 assists. He’s also taken 32 shots on goal, second only to Steven Stamkos.
  • Brayden Point hasn’t fired a ton of pucks, but he’s got the magic touch of late, with 10 goals in Tampa’s last 10 games, scored on just 22 shots on goal.

Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Predictions

  • Auston Matthews picked up goals 62 and 63 in Monday’s game and is back in the hunt for 70, a mark that hasn’t been hit by anyone in over 30 years. Prices for an anytime goal are generally in the -140 to -160 range, but the best deal is at Betano at -128.
  • Bobby McMann was held off the shot sheet on Monday for just the second time in his last 24 games, but he’s not been scared to show his volume throughout this year and I can see him stepping back up today. His line remains at 2.5 shots on goal, with most books ranging at +100 to +105. The best deal is at Pinnacle, coming in at +107. If you like the under instead, DraftKings has your best value at -135.
  • Tampa could really use these points and they’ll be looking for their star forward to get them there. Nikita Kucherov has seven points in his last two games against Toronto and him dazzling again tonight wouldn’t be a huge shock. The best value on a goal for him is at FanDuel (+145), and the best value on over 1.5 points is at DraftKings (+120).

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