Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:53 AM

NHL Game 3 Playoff Picks and Predictions - Tampa Bay vs. New York

Game 3 - Tampa Bay at New York

  • Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals
  • Date: Friday, September 11, 2020
  • TV-Time: NBCSN, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Rogers Place
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

NHL Best Bet

New York Islanders ML +125

The Islanders may not have ended up winning Game 2 had it gone to OT like everyone on that Islanders bench expected in the final minute of Game 2, and to lose the contest with fewer than 10 seconds left on the scoreboard hurts. New York had played a stellar game from start to finish in that one and there just wasn't any reward.

This time of year, being in the Eastern Conference Finals, no team can afford to play that well and not get the reward. There season will end much quicker then they'd like. Which brings the Islanders to a Game 3 where there really isn't much room left for slip ups, and how the Islanders respond will be critical.

The crushing way in which Game 2 ended does leave the door open for a possible lackluster effort from New York as they feel sorry for themselves for the 2-0 series hole they are in, but it's hard to believe that's in their style. They simply have too much “workhorse” in them to fold up shop when the going gets tough. It was just the 2nd time in the bubble that they've lost consecutive hockey games (Games 5 and 6 last round), although losing four of five overall is slightly concerning.

That being said, New York knows how well they played in Game 2, and that they've just got to capitalize on more chances so that they aren't in the position to lose the game late again. They know that Tampa is likely to be without their leading playoff score in Brayden Point (23 pts) tonight after he left Game 2 with an injury, and even though Tampa's got enough weapons behind him, not having to deal with him is just another slight advantage a strong defensive team like the Islanders should be able to take advantage of.

New York has to knock the door down on Andrei Vasilevskiy first though if they want to get to a point where they can go into lockdown mode, as three goals – only two of which have come when the game(s) weren't already decided – are all the Islanders have in this series so far; Tampa hit that mark in the 1st period of Game 1.

Having believed in the Islanders since the start of this series, coming back with them in Game 3 when they are down 0-2 in the series isn't a big surprise. If these playoffs were under the 'usual' format with travel, fans, actual home ice etc, I don't believe bettors would be as spooked to consider this Islanders team coming home down 0-2 in the series. In fact, isn't there a saying that a playoff series doesn't really start until someone loses at home?

Obviously a much different setting here, but from what New York has shown throughout their entire stay in the bubble is that they are a resilient bunch that I'm willing to trust at least one more time to try and climb back into this series. This Tampa core has their own mental demons to deal with in the Conference Finals having lost in seven games in this round in two of the past four seasons.

If New York can start to put some pressure on the Lightning and force them to be on their back foot the majority of the time, who knows how this series could shift if thoughts of doubt start to permeate through that Lightning dressing room. This team hasn't really faced any sort of adversity in the bubble yet (round robin games, winning both series 4-1), and it's always easy to look good when things are going good.

It's when things are going bad that you see real teams step up and do what they can to eliminate that feeling, and with most counting the Islanders out after that heartbreaking Game 2 loss, I'll trust this hard-nosed team get the job done one more time and climb back into this series.

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