The Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers meet for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday at Madison Square Garden in New York. Puck drop for the opener of the best-of-7 series is 8 p.m. ET (ESPN/ESPN+). Below, we look at the Lightning vs. Rangers Game 1 odds and lines, and make our expert NHL picks, predictions and bets.
The Lightning have been waiting to resume play since May 23 after sweeping the Florida Panthers in the second round. Tampa Bay outscored Florida by a 13-3 count, holding the regular season’s top-scoring team down. RW Nikita Kucherov leads the team with 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) this postseason.
The Rangers did it again in the second round, winning a pair of elimination games to erase a 3-2 series deficit to win in 7 games against the Carolina Hurricanes. C Mika Zibanejad has been a horse with 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) this postseason.
Lightning at Rangers odds and lines
- Money line: Lightning -130 (bet $130 to win $100) | Rangers +105 (bet $100 to win $105)
- Against the spread (ATS): Lightning -1.5 (+180) | Rangers +1.5 (-250)
- Over/Under (O/U): 5.5 (O: -108 | U: -112)
Lightning at Rangers projected goalies
Andrei Vasilevskiy (8-3-0, 2.23 GAA, .932 SV%, 1 SO – postseason) vs Igor Shesterkin (8-5-0, 2.68 GAA, .928 SV% – postseason)
Vasilevskiy allowed just 3 total goals in the 4-game sweep of the high-octane Panthers. In Game 4, he saved his best for last, turning aside all 49 shots he faced for his first shutout of the postseason. “Vassy” was 0-2 with a 3.03 GAA and .875 SV% in the regular season against the Rangers.
Shesterkin has allowed 3 or fewer goals in 10 straight playoff games since getting pulled in Game 4 in Pittsburgh in the first round. He has won 4 of his past 5 starts. Shesterkin was a stellar 3-0 with a 1.30 GAA and .958 SV% against the Lightning in the regular season.
The LIGHTNING (-130) are the two-time defending champs, and they’re rested. The Rangers (+105) are coming off of a grueling 7-game series, their second straight to open the postseason.
So what do you believe? Do you like a rested team, or feel they’ll be rusty? Or do you like a team that just got done playing, and feel they’ll have plenty of momentum? I like the first part. I like Tampa’s experience, and I like the fact Tampa comes in rejuvenated and ready to go.
Against the spread
The Rangers +1.5 (-250) are 4-1 in the past 5 games against the puck line, but risking two-and-a-half times your potential return is just too much. If you like New York, play them straight up. I don’t like that, however.
The OVER 5.5 (-108) is a risky play, mainly because we have 2 premier goaltenders squaring off against each other. But Tampa is well rested and ready to go, and New York’s power play was on fire in the second round against Carolina. Look for plenty of goals in this series opener.