NHL Playoff Picks for Islanders-Lightning and Canadiens-Golden Knights

NHL Playoff Picks for Islanders-Lightning and Canadiens-Golden Knights

Check out our updated predictions for the final two 2021 NHL playoff series.

The NHL could not have asked for a better start to the third round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. Both remaining series enter their Game 3s tied at one win apiece, potentially setting up a couple of all-time finishes. And with the postseason reaching critical mass, we've got updated NHL playoff picks for Islanders-Lightning and Canadiens-Golden Knights.

There is a time and a place to focus on upcoming game lines for each of these series. Now is not it. We are more concerned with the bigger picture. With these best-of-seven sets knotted up at one game, we're instead here to predict the outright winner in each series.

Before we do that, let's take a look at the latest NHL playoff series betting odds, courtesy of BetOnline:

Remember to always double-check these NHL playoff betting lines before committing to a wager. Series prices move according to the outcome of each individual game.

NHL Playoff Predictions For Round 3

For posterity's sake, please note that our series outcome predictions are based on what we've seen through the first two games of each matchup.

If you're reading this after you've seen Game 3 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning or the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights, you'll want to take into account whatever happened in those subsequent contests that we've yet to see.

Now, on to our NHL playoff picks!

Tampa Bay Lightning (-210) vs. New York Islanders (+180)

Series Score: 1-1

Islanders vs Lightning odds

This was our toughest NHL playoff series to pick of the year.

On the one hand, you have the Lightning, who are reigning champs and playing their best hockey of the season at just the right time. On the other hand, you've got the Islanders, a team that clawed into the playoffs on the back of their defense and has managed to reach a new, nuclear level on the offensive end.

The pull to select the Islanders is real. The payout remains enticing, and their defense has shown that it can keep pace with the Lightning's offense. Tampa Bay is shooting just 7.8 percent through the first two games of this series, a far cry from their 11.2 percent clip for the postseason overall.

Still, despite New York's recent uptick in offensive potency, we have to question the viability of their scoring potential. They don't have a ton of capable self-creators beyond centers Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson.

Through two games, we've already seen how the Islanders' dependence on them can be a hindrance. The two centers account for three of their four goals so far.

Equally concerning is the Islanders' shot volume. The Lightning may not be finding the net on as many of their attempts, but they're getting them in droves. They have attempted 64 shots on goal through two games—seven more than New York has lobbed at Tampa Bay's own posts.

Factoring in the play of Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Lightning's star goalkeeper only moves the needle further in their favor. He is saving 93 percent of all the shots that come his way and faces very little pressure when both Barzal and Nelson aren't on the court.

If you think the Islanders can steal Game 3, we recommend sitting on the Lightning's series price. You might get underdog odds in advance of Game 4. But we also consider that too much of a risk. Tampa Bay is clearly the better, more well-rounded team.

OSB Series Prediction: Lightning (-210)

Lightning To beat the Islanders
-210
BetOnline

Vegas Golden Knights (-340) vs. Montreal Canadiens (+285)

Series Score: 1-1

Don't let the series score fool you. This matchup is far less interesting than the 1-1 deadlock suggests.

Oddsmakers appear to recognize that this tie is nothing more than a temporary mirage. They still have the Golden Knights as overwhelming favorites, and we only expect that line to inch closer to 1-to-4 or even 1-to-5 by Game 4.

Yes, the Canadiens stole Game 2. Kudos to them. They got transcendent outings from Joel Armia and Paul Byron. Maybe that keeps happening. But probably not.

More to the point, though, the Golden Knights won't play as poorly as they did in Game 2 again. They allowed the Canadiens to go 2-for-2 on power plays, an uncharacteristic development caused by a lack of attention to Montreal's puck movement after crossing center ice.

Canadiens vs Golden Knights odds

Vegas has been much better at killing shorthanded time during the regular season and even during the postseason. Montreal doesn't so much have them on the ropes as the Golden Knights just beat themselves.

Look no further than Game 1 to prove as much. Vegas overwhelmed the defense with four goals and fantastic puck movement. Reilly Smith put on a table-setting clinic, helping tee up shots for his defensemen.

The latter is where the Golden Knights truly have the Canadiens beat. Montreal wants defensemen that can score in volume. Many of their lines are stacked with one-way players. That hasn't caught up to them in other series. We estimate it will be the end of these Stanley Cup Semifinals.

OSB Series Prediction: Golden Knights (-340)

Golden Knights To beat the Canadiens
-340
BetOnline

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