The Vegas Golden Knights have jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, giving the Florida Panthers a taste of their own medicine along the way. The Golden Knights have been outplayed in each of the first two games, still escaping with a pair of convincing wins.
That’s been the Panthers’ MO this postseason. The Eastern Conference Champions made a run to the final while compiling the fifth-worst expected goals-for rating. Hot goaltending and timely scoring have paved the way for Florida, but they may have exhausted their puck luck ahead of the exciting conclusion.
Nevertheless, they enter a pivotal Game 3 with solid underlying metrics, home-ice advantage, and an appealing moneyline price.
- Location: FLA Live Arena | Sunrise, Florida
- Time: 8:00 p.m. ET | TV: TNT, Sportsnet
Vegas has struggled to contain its opponents over its recent sample. The Golden Knights have allowed 13 or more high-danger chances in three of their past five, getting out-chanced in all but two of those outings. Those deficiencies have been more pronounced on the road, with the Western Conference Champions allowing two of their past four opponents to exceed 15 quality opportunities. Now, they are tasked with facing a relentless Panthers attack looking to get back on track.
Other than one ineffective performance against the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida has been one of the most opportunistic teams in the playoffs. The Panthers have attempted nine or more high-danger chances in six of their past seven. Granted, a few of those contests have gone to overtime, but even when adjusted for 60 minutes, they are averaging 10.6 quality opportunities per game.Golden Knights @ Panthers Odds on FanDuel
- Spread: Golden Knights +1.5 (-250) | Panthers -1.5 (+202)
- Moneyline: Golden Knights +100 | Panthers -120
- Total: OVER 6.5 (+112) | UNDER 6.5 (-138)
Although they overachieved relative to production metrics for the early part of the postseason, Florida’s current output doesn’t match their opportunities. As such, we’re anticipating a strong showing at the FLA Live Arena.
The Panthers have been limited to two or fewer goals in four of their last five, watching their shooting percentage plummet to 8.3%. Worse, their five-on-five shooting percentage has fallen even further, dropping to 6.1% over the five-game sample.
This correction phase was inevitable after a stretch of unsustainable play. But the pendulum has swung far enough, and the Panthers are due for progression over their coming games.Golden Knights @ Panthers Picks
- Over 6.5 +112
- Matthew Tkachuk Any Time Goal Scorer +135
Florida’s best chance of making this series competitive comes on home ice in Game 3. The Panthers desperately need their stars to shine, and last change affords them the best opportunity to get Matthew Tkachuk and company going. Moreover, the hosts are primed for increased scoring as output catches up with production.
We’re anticipating an elite offensive effort from the Panthers, but we also can’t discount Vegas’ ability to find the back of the net. Much like the Panthers’ scoring has done an about-face over the past few outings, Sergei Bobrovsky has regressed at the worst possible time of year. The Russian netminder was a big reason Florida made it this far, but he appears to be running out of gas, allowing eight goals on 46 shots through the first two games of the final. Sadly, he remains above career norms in save percentage and goals against average this postseason, implying further correction is anticipated.
Thursday’s contest should be a high-scoring affair. The Golden Knights have made an impression with their scoring, and the Panthers have no choice but to keep up. Plus money on the over 6.5 makes this an appealing option.
Further, Florida’s best players must step up to keep the team afloat, meaning Tkachuk will need to bring his A-game. Although he’s the betting favorite in the any time goal scorer market, there’s still value in backing him to find the back of the net.
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