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Florida vs. Tampa Bay,
12/23/2019 19:00 EDT,
Score: 1 - 6
Money Line: -179 Tampa Bay
7* Tampa Bay (7:05 ET): One of things I find to be most perplexing this NHL season has been the failure of the Lightning to ascend in the Atlantic Division. After all, this was a club that set a record last year with 62 regular season wins. We all remember their unceremonious 1st round exit at the hands of Columbus though and perhaps that's had a "carryover effect" because right now TB is only sixth in the division with just 38 points. But, even after B2B losses (to the Stars & Capitals), I'm not about to "give up" on this team. Look for them to get two points tonight in this all-Sunshine State matchup.
Florida is one of the teams currently ahead of the Lightning in the Atlantic. They've won three straight and have 41 points. The offense is humming right now with 17 goals scored during the win streak. However, let's not get tricked by a small sample size. Prior to this win streak, the Panthers had lost 7 of 10. While they do rank near the top of the league in goals scored for the year, this team also isn't shy about giving up its fair share as well. In 15 road games, the Panthers have been outscored due to giving up an average of 3.53 goals per game. Only eight teams are allowing more goals per game on the road.
Tampa Bay has no problem scoring at home. In fact, they lead the league in that department with an average of 3.83 goals per game. These B2B losses that they've suffered are some real "head-scratchers" as they outshot Dallas 48-20 (lost in OT) and then were 0 for 7 on the power play against Washington, which included a 2-man advantage in the third period when the game was tied. (Lightning lead the league on the PP). Florida needed 42 saves from backup goalie Driedger to beat Carolina its last time out. Last time these teams played was two weeks ago and TB won a low-scoring game (2-1) in Miami. It was their eighth time beating the Panthers in the last nine tries. 7* Tampa Bay