Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Lighting vs. Golden Knights (2/18/2023) - Taking Vegas

Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Lighting vs. Golden Knights (2/18/2023)

By TakingVegas Staff Writer
February 18, 2023
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Tampa Bay Lightning vs Vegas Golden Knights (2/18 @ 10:30 PM EST)

Puck Line: Tampa Bay -1.5 (+185)
Money Line: Tampa Bay -125 / Vegas +105
Total: 6.5

Overview and Betting Info

The Tampa Bay Lightning (35-16-3) will head across the country to take on the Vegas Golden Knights (33-18-4). This is the first times these teams have met this season. Vegas leads the Pacific with 70 points, while Tampa is third in the Atlantic with 73 points.

Tampa is 29-25 against the spread this season, covering 14 of their 26 home games. They’ve gone over the total 26 times, 15 of which came on the road.

Vegas is 29-26 versus the spread but have only covered 13 of their 27 home games. They’ve gone over the total 25 times, 10 of which came at home.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa comes to Vegas with a 3-3 records since the All-Star break. They’ve beaten the Avs twice and Dallas once during that stretch, though their last game was an overtime shutout loss to the Coyotes. Their offense has been streaky, averaging 4.0 goals in their three wins but just 1.3 in their three losses. Their offense has been great overall this season, ranking fifth in scoring (3.50 GF/G), twelfth in shots (32.3 S/GP), and third in power play percentage (25.3%). Their defense has been average, ranking twelfth in goals allowed (2.87 GA/GP), seventeenth in penalty kill percentage (82.0%), and twelfth in shots allowed (32.3 SA/GP).

The Lightning offense is led by Nikita Kucherov (21 G, 57 A), Brayden Point (32 G, 28 A), and Steven Stamkos (24 G, 34 A). Kucherov continues to be one of the league’s best players, ranking third in the NHL in points (78) this season and tied for first in assists. He has six points in his six games this month despite failing to register one in their last game. Point also has six points in his previous six games but just one in their last three games. It’s not been from a lack of shots, so he may be set to break out against Vegas on Saturday. Steven Stamkos leads Tampa’s second line but has managed just one point this month. He had 16 in January, making this an alarming trend. Stamkos has still been taking shots, with eight over their last two games.

The Tampa Bay blueline is led by Mikhail Sergachev (7 G, 29 A, +11) and Victor Hedman (4 G, 32 A, +13). Sergachev is in Tampa’s second pairing but still leads the group in points. He had a goal and two assists in his first three games since the All-Star break, but he’s been quiet since. Hedman leads the top pairing and has three assists in his last five games. He has yet to score this month after finishing January hot, but he has taken 10 shots over their last three games. We see a goal coming for him as soon as tonight. Don’t forget about Zach Bogosian (0 G, 2 A). While he isn’t involved in the offense, his defensive play makes him the perfect complement to Hedman on the top line.

The Lightning has one of the league’s top goalies in Andrei Vasilevskiy (26-13-1, 2.53 GA/G, 92.0% SV), who ranks second in the league in wins this season. After the All-Star break, he had a challenging game against the Panthers, allowing seven goals in a loss. Since then,  He is 3-0 with a 1.3 goal average. He is expected to get the start after sitting against the Coyotes on Wednesday.

Vegas Golden Knights

The Knights have gotten back on track after losing six of seven games to win four in a row. Two of those wins came against bad teams in the Ducks and Sharks, but they have averaged 4.24 goals during that span. The offense was a welcome sight as the Knights rank fifteenth in scoring (3.20 GF/G), eighteenth in power play percentage (21.4%), and tenth in shots (32.7 S/GP). Vegas ranks tenth in goals allowed (2.76 GA/GP) and ninth in shots allowed (30.1 S/GP). They struggle to kill power plays, ranking seventeenth by stopping 79.6% of attempts.

Vegas gets fairly even offensive production from each of their lines, led by Chandler Stephenson (12 G, 36 A, +10 ) and Jack Eichel (17 G, 22 A, +11). Stephenson was an All-Star and has one goal and three assists in the four games since. It’s a promising start after a January that saw him manage just five points after getting 20 in December. Eichel has dealt with injuries that have held him out but returned for a brutal January that saw him register just five points and a +/- of -10. Like Stephenson, he has been better this month, with two goals and three assists in four games. Some of their struggles can be attributed to the loss of Mark Stone (38 points), as the forward landed on injured reserve early in January. The Knights have adapted to being without Stone, thanks partly to Reilly Smith (19 G, 17 A), who has three assists and one goal in his last four games.

The Vegas blueline is loaded with talent led by top pairing Alex Pietrangelo (7 G, 26 A) and Alec Martinez (1 G, 8 A, +13). Pietrangelo is a big piece of the Vegas offense, though he has faded lately, with just two points in his last eight games. Martinez joins him in the top pairing and is a physical defender. While he isn’t scoring, he fits well alongside Pietrangelo. Shea Theodore (5 G, 21 A, +19) has led the Knights’ second pairing. He has four points and a +/- of 7 in four games this month.

Vegas features an elite rookie goalie in Logan Thompson (20-13-3, 2.66 GA/G, 91.4% SV), but he is expected to miss the game with a lower-body injury. Luckily the Knights have another great option in Adin Hill (13-5-1, 2.47 GA/G, 91.3% SV). Hill has been great this month, going 3-0, allowing just four goals, and saving 94.4% of shots in four appearances (3 starts). Vegas may choose to give Hill a night off with Thompson remaining out, which would mean reserve goalie Laurent Brossoit could get the start. He has not played this season but went 10-9-3 while allowing 2.90 goals with Vegas last season.

Free Pick: Over 6.5

This game will feature two hungry teams desperate for a big win. Both have been scoring well, with the lone exception being their last games. After being shut out by the Coyotes, we expect Tampa to respond strongly. Hill has been fantastic in goal, but he is carrying the workload with Thompson out resulting in more time on the ice. We see a bit of fatigue combined with a lot of shots from a frustrated Tampa offense to result in multiple goals.

Vasilevskiy is excellent, but Vegas has averaged over four goals per game over their last four. After a brutal January, it appears their top players are getting back into form and ready to return to their winning ways.

We see a barnburner that easily surpasses six goals, so we’re taking the over in this one.