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Stanley Cup Playoffs betting: Back Lightning, Jets

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A quartet of opening-game losers are looking to even the series.

Lightning (+150) @ Panthers (-180)

The Lightning were lucky to still be breathing after the first 15 minutes of Game 1. The Panthers channeled the energy from the home crowd and completely outplayed their rival to start the game. However, Florida managed only one goal before Tampa created a scoring chance and finished with just a 13-10 edge in high-danger chances.

Tampa's lethal power play only got two chances to go to work - scoring once - and there's a good chance the team will get more opportunities in Game 2.

At +150, the odds for a Lightning win aren't differing from Game 1 and imply they need to win this game more than 40% of the time to be valuable. Taking Tampa - a veteran team - to draw even in what should be a highly competitive series is a pretty good idea, so if you think this matchup is closer to a 50/50 proposition, you're getting value on the Bolts.

Pick: Lightning moneyline (+150)

Avalanche (-120) @ Jets (+100)

Fading the Avalanche after a 3.77-1.48 advantage in even-strength expected goals isn't easy. However, which of these two aspects of the series in which we favored the Jets is more likely to occur in Game 2?

  1. The Jets, who were strong all season, drive play more evenly.
  2. Alexandar Georgiev is suddenly good after an effort in which he registered minus-4.43 goals saved above expected.

Georgiev was below average in the regular season (minus-0.21 GSAx), and a turnaround in his play seems far less likely than a turnaround by his counterpart, Vezina favorite Connor Hellebuyck, who also struggled in Game 1. However, rookie Justus Annunen missed practice with an illness on Monday, making him a high-risk play if Colorado wants to give up on Georgiev already.

With no good option in net, the Avalanche may need even more than a 14-8 edge in high-danger chances at even strength.

Pick: Jets moneyline (+100)

Predators (+130) @ Canucks (-155)

This was published before Thatcher Demko was ruled out of Game 2.

Vancouver's first home playoff game in nine years was almost too much for the team. Many said it took some time to settle into the contest. But now that the Canucks have felt what Rogers Arena can be come playoff time, look for them to channel that energy better early on.

The Canucks saw what the Predators do - attempt long breakout passes to counter their dominant offensive-zone possession - and quickly made adjustments, allowing no high-danger chances at even strength in the second period and just four in the third despite late pressure from Nashville.

Vancouver also tightened up its penalty kill after an early Preds conversion and avoided undisciplined penalties.

The Canucks drove play throughout the game and will have the right strategy in place in Game 2. While a moneyline bet should cash, risking -155 might not be your flavor in the postseason. The convincing win that these odds suggest probably comes with a more efficient start and Vancouver leading after the first period. That's a bet worth making at plus odds.

Pick: Canucks - First period 3-way (+150)

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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