Panthers vs Lightning NHL Odds, Picks and Predictions May 20

Updated: May 20, 2021

After missing the entire regular season following hip surgery, Lightning star Nikita Kucherov has not missed a step, averaging almost 21 minutes with four points through the first two games of this series.

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The Tampa Bay Lightning took both games on the road to open their first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers and now play at home in complete control of this best-of-seven series.

The defending Cup champs are heavy NHL betting favorites to win this series and are home chalk for tonight’s Game 3 against a Panthers squad that looks to be a little shellshocked down 2-0.

Can the Sunshine Kitties get back in the series? Find out our thoughts in our Panthers vs. Lightning picks and predictions for Thursday, May 20, with puck drop set for 6:30 p.m. ET.  

Panthers vs Lightning game info

Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay, FL
Date: Thursday, May 20, 2021
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET

Panthers vs Lightning odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

Compare NHL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

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The line opened at Tampa Bay -149/Florida +130, but early action on the Panthers has shifted the line to Bolts -140/Panthers +120. The total opened at 5.5 and still sits at that number, but is heavily juiced towards the Over. Check back later for a full report from Patrick!

Check out the full line movement for this game

Panthers vs Lightning series odds

Panthers: +650
Lightning: -1,000

Panthers at Lightning betting preview


Panthers: Aaron Ekblad D (Out).
Lightning: Barclay Goodrow F (Out).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Lightning are 6-1 in their last seven playoff games as a favorite. Find more NHL betting trends for Panthers vs. Lightning.

Moneyline pick

Florida went into its first-round playoff series very confident against their in-state rivals: the Panthers dominated the season series, consistently scored on Tampa star goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, and the Lightning’s two best offensive players were playing together for the first time all season after extended absences. Surely that would equal a great start for Florida at home, right?


Tampa Bay looked like it hadn’t missed a step, mounting a thrilling comeback late in the third period to steal Game 1 and then jumping out to an early lead and locking down on defense in winning Game 2.

In addition to having a commanding 2-0 lead heading back to home ice, the Lightning have to be thrilled that Nikita Kucherov, who missed the entire regular season following hip surgery, averaged 20:48 of ice time through the first two games with two goals and two assists, while Vasilevskiy stopped 32 of 33 shots in Game 2 — a great performance against a Panthers team that lit him up all season.

On the other side, Florida is left wondering what to make of its goaltending. Sergei Bobrovsky struggled in Game 1, giving up five goals — including two in the final seven minutes — while Chris Driedger gave up a goal on his third shot of Game 2 and allowed another tally in the first frame that put the Panthers behind the eight-ball all game.

It’s unknown whether Florida sticks with Driedger, goes back to Bobo, or gives a shot to top prospect Spencer Knight (who was spectacular in limited appearances this year), but it’s desperation time for the Panthers in this pivotal Game 3.

Unfortunately for them, they dropped the first two games at home and now have to survive at Amalie Arena, where Florida has lost 19 of its last 26 games. Tampa Bay is fully healthy and looks like a juggernaut once again, so we’re going to back the Bolts in Game 3 — and take them on the 3-way regulation moneyline to move the value from -140 to plus money on the favorites.

PREDICTION: Lightning 3-way ML (+116)

Covers NHL betting analysis

Over/Under pick

It feels weird to say this, but the Panthers’ offense really missed Sam Bennett. The 2014 fourth-overall pick flamed out in Calgary but was on fire since joining Florida at the trade deadline, scoring 15 points in 10 games, leading the team in Corsi For Percentage and seeing his TOI go from around 13 mpg to more than 18 in Florida.

He was third among all Florida skaters in ice time in Game 1, notching two assists, but was suspended for Game 2 for boarding. The Panthers will have Bennett back for Game 3, and with added desperation will certainly put up more fight than their one-goal output on Tuesday.

The Lightning have already flexed their offensive muscles, scoring eight goals through the first two games, and with Florida playing for their season, it’s unlikely the Bolts will grab another early multi-goal lead and then clamp down the rest of the way.

The Over is 6-3-1 in the head-to-head this season (including playoffs) and has cashed in 20 of the last 26 meetings in Tampa Bay. We’re expecting Game 3 to be a bit more wide-open (like Game 1), which has us betting the Over tonight.      

PREDICTION: Over 5.5 (-125)

Panthers vs Lightning betting card

  • Lightning 3-way ML (+116)
  • Over 5.5 (-125)

Picks made on 5/20/2021 at 10:30 a.m. ET

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