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NY Post
New York Post
17 Feb 2024

NextImg:Panthers vs. Lightning prediction: NHL odds, picks, best bets for Saturday

The battle of the Sunshine State may be at its all-time peak.

The Florida Panthers have won eight of their past nine games, tying the Bruins for the division lead in a mission to return to the Stanley Cup Final. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning remain in playoff position with a three-game win streak of their own. 

They’ll carry an impressive 6-3 victory over the Avalanche into Saturday night’s cross-state rivalry match.

Much of Tampa Bay’s offense has been thanks to Nikita Kucherov, who is back to having one of his signature point-producing campaigns.

He’s leading the league with 93 points amid an eight-game point streak. 

If Kucherov was omitted from the picture, the Lightning would be bereft of offense; he has notched a point on 49 percent of the goal production. 

Tampa is the No. 1 team on power-play conversion.

Kucherov has racked up 39 points with the man advantage.

Anthony Stolarz #41 of the Florida Panthers tends goal against the Buffalo Sabres.
Panthers goalie Anthony Stolarz NHLI via Getty Images

This kind of scoring potency has helped bank wins that likely wouldn’t have been there otherwise due to some defensive inconsistencies and goaltending regression — the Lightning are No. 28 in save percentage. 

The Panthers, who took the Dec. 23 meeting, 3-2, are the most difficult team to penetrate through the neutral zone. 

Sergei Bobrovsky has rebounded to stabilize the Cats with a top-five save percentage alongside breakout contributions from Anthony Stolarz. 

They lead the league in shots because of a balanced lineup that is aggressive on pucks in all three zones.

Aside from relentless five-on-five puck possession, the Panthers also dominate with special teams units despite being the second-most penalized club in the game. 

Florida’s tear is no fluke. This is a team that wears its unique identity proudly by playing fire-wagon hockey. 

Kucherov clearly owns a kingdom of real estate in oddsmakers’ minds. The value is juicy enough to double down on the Cats bringing the jungle to Tampa.

THE PLAY: Panthers -1.5 (+200, DraftKings)