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Lightning Host Capitals as Game 5 Betting Favorite on Home Ice

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An overwhelming over trend might be the lone certainty in an NHL semifinal series where the away team has won every game.

The Lightning are a -170 home-ice favorite with the Washington Capitals coming back at +150 and there is a six-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final on Saturday night. The series is tied 2-2.

The total has gone over in 16 of Tampa Bay’s last 20 home games against Metropolitan Division teams, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, while Washington is 11-2 in its last 13 away games during the playoffs. Tampa Bay is 7-3 in its last 10 home games.

Washington, which is also 16-4 in its last 20 away games (playoffs and regular season) against Atlantic Division teams, was snakebitten in the two most recent games of the series. The Capitals, led offensively by Alex Ovechkin, outshot the Lightning by a combined 76-43 in Games 3 and 4, but were stonewalled by Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.

More often than not, the team generating more shot attempts and shots on goal eventually prevails in hockey. The Capitals will also have a key cog, center Nicklas Backstrom, in his second game back from an injury.

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.24 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in the playoffs. Neither starting goalie has had a shutout in the postseason, which is another reason to think there will be some numbers put on the board at Amalie Arena.

Tampa Bay, which is 7-3 in its last 10 home games during the playoffs as a moneyline favorite of -150 to -500 on the NHL betting lines, has stayed in the series thanks to a lethal power play. With center Steven Stamkos and right wing Nikita Kucherov thriving on being teed up by their teammates, Tampa Bay has scored six of its 12 goals in the series on the power play.

The shots on goal discrepancy in Game 4 could be attributable to a string of the penalties that left the Lightning in a defensive mode for long stretches, particularly a 20-minute stretch where it failed to record an official shot. It’s plausible that Tampa Bay, the highest-scoring team in the NHL in the regular season, will break out at some point.

Vasilevskiy has a 2.63 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in the playoffs.

While everyone loves an overtime game, puckline bets have been a solid play recently. Fifteen of the last 17 NHL playoff games have been decided by more than one goal, although two of the past three required an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the game.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

 

Ewan wins Stage 11; Conti keeps pink jersey in Giro

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NOVI LIGURE, Italy (AP) Caleb Ewan of Australia sprinted to victory on the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, while Italian cyclist Valerio Conti remained the overall leader.

Ewan, who rides for Lotto-Soudal, edged out Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 221-kilometer (137-mile) route from Carpi to Novi Ligure.

Conti remained 1 minute, 50 seconds ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who is one of the favorites, and 2:21 ahead of Nans Peters of France.

It was the second victory at this year’s Giro for the 24-year-old Ewan, who also won the sprint at the end of the eighth and longest stage on Saturday.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

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Lightning heavy favorites on Stanley Cup odds at all-star break

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The NHL has a team far out in front in the overall standings as it heads into its all-star break – and that might serve to goose the value of other Stanley Cup contenders.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have been first overall for most of the season, are the +260 favorite on the latest Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Lightning, with a deep offense led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos and a premiere defenseman in Victor Hedman leading their back end, lead the NHL in points, wins, goals scored and goal differential.

The top of the futures board also includes the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames (+550), San Jose Sharks (+750), Toronto Maple Leafs (+800) and Winnipeg Jets (+800).

As loaded as the Lightning are, the top team in the regular season rarely lifts the Stanley Cup in the spring. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings are the most recent team to finish first overall and go on to win the whole thing in a full 82-game season. Only eight of 33 Presidents’ Trophy winners have also won the Stanley Cup.

Calgary is a solid second favorite, with left wing Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano being among the NHL’s best at their positions. As a western Canada-based team, the Flames are also likely to fly under the radar of public bettors. Their question mark revolves around goalies David Rittich and Mike Smith having almost no Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Sticking in the Pacific Division, San Jose is a springtime-seasoned team, having made the final in 2016, and their current standing has come with dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson working his way back to peak form after adapting to a new team.

At this stage of the game, bettors looking for value in a league that prides itself on parity should consider teams with greater than 10/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The cluster of teams that includes the Nashville Predators (+1400), Vegas Golden Knights (+1500), New York Islanders (+1600), Pittsburgh Penguins (+1600) and defending champion Washington Capitals (+2000) includes plenty of playoff experience.

The Penguins are always a threat with Sidney Crosby and have weathered injuries, including one to No. 1 goalie Matt Murray, during the first four months of the regular season. The Predators and Golden Knights are the two most recent Western Conference finalists and are both strong puck-possession teams, while the Islanders are under the command of head coach Barry Trotz, who steered Washington to its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

It might be best to fade the Capitals, though, until such time that No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby shows he can recover his past form.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.