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Handicapper WeBeatTheSpread is here with an NHL best bet between the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. Come get his Penguins vs. Lightning prediction.
ANALYSIS

Penguins vs. Lightning Prediction: Will We See Fireworks in Pittsburgh?

The Penguins host the Lightning in what will be an exciting matchup between eastern conference foes. The Lightning sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with a 37-17-4 record, and they are expected to make the playoffs once again for the sixth year in a row. They are the defending runner-ups and have made it to the Stanley Cup final three seasons in a row. On the other hand, the Penguins are fighting to make the playoffs, sitting in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division with a 28-21-9 record. They are two points behind the Islanders, although they have played four fewer games. Both teams are on the back end of a back-to-back, and both teams picked up wins yesterday. So what is the best bet for this one tonight?

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Penguins vs. Lightning Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

  • Date: February 26, 2023
  • Start Time: 6:00 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN+

Click here for Penguins vs. Lightning odds

Penguins vs. Lightning Prediction

If this were Andrei Vasilevskiy against Tristan Jarry, the story would be different. We would have a good goalie battle between two of the top netminders in the league. Instead, it will likely be Brian Elliott against Casey DeSmith because of both teams are on the back end of a back-to-back set. Jarry is still fresh off an injury that held him out for a while, and Vasilevskiy rarely plays back-to-backs, so we should see both the back-ups here.

On the Penguins' side, DeSmith is a serviceable backup, but he is no Jarry. He is 10-12-4 on the season with a .904% save rate, while Jarry is 17-7-5 with a .917% save rate. The defense always seems to step up with Jarry in net. DeSmith has a 3.28 goals allowed average this season, and he now faces one of the top-scoring teams in the league. The Lightning rank 4th in the league with 3.6 goals per game.

On the other side, Brian Elliott is a significant step down from former Vezina trophy winner Andrei Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy is 28-14-2 on the season with a .92% save rate, while Elliott is 9-3-2 with a .904% save rate. Elliott can be decent in his starts, but it seems like when he faces a decent offense, he folds. Look no further than the first and only meeting between these two teams this season. In the only head-to-head meeting this season, Elliott allowed five goals on 39 shots against the Penguins in a 2-6 loss.

Elliott is coming off a shutout against the Coyotes, but that furthers my point. The Lightning uses Elliott in net when they are facing bad teams mostly, unless it's a back-to-back, like tonight. Looking back on his starts against "better" teams, he allows three or more goals almost every time. In his last three starts against decent teams - the Wild, Sabres, and Stars - he allowed four goals, five goals, and four goals.

Both the Penguins and Lightnings' defense has been horrific on back-to-backs. The Penguins are 2-9 in back-to-backs this season, allowing an average of four goals per game and 37 shots. The Lightning are 3-7 in back-to-backs this season, allowing an average of 3.7 goals and 32 shots. The tired legs have gotten to them, and as a result, higher-scoring games have been a theme for these two teams in back-to-backs. The Penguins have also allowed four-plus goals in seven of their nine zero-rest spots. As a result, I think we see a ton of goals in tonight's matchup of backup goaltenders. Take the over.

Penguins vs. Lightning Pick

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Article Author

NCAABBoxing/MMAMLBNHL

Ben Rajavuori is a handicapper out of Minneapolis, MN. He has been creating sports content for almost four years now and is an expert in all things NFL, MLB, NBA, UFC, and NCAAB. Ben thrives on diving deep into statistics to find the best angle on every bet. You can follow him on Twitter @WeBeatTheSpread.

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