Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New Jersey Devils reset: NHL playoffs schedule, scores, results, TV channels, stream
Can the Devils keep hope alive as the series heads back to Tampa Bay?
So what side should you back? And where does the value lie? Visit SportsLine to get NHL odds and picks for every Stanley Cup Playoff game, all from the advanced computer model on a red-hot 21-8 NHL run.
After a stunning 5-2 win over the Lightning in Game 3, the Devils failed to pull even in the series on Wednesday night in New Jersey. Instead, it was Tampa Bay getting back into the win column with a 3-1 win that pushed the Devils into a 3-1 series hole. As the series shifts back to Tampa, the Devils will need to bring everything they've got in order to stay alive.
The Devils snuck in as the second wild card and are a "happy to be here" group after finishing last season as the worst team in the East. They've got plenty of young talent paving a bright future, but they've got their work cut out for them if they want to take down one of the league's most well-rounded squads in Tampa Bay.
Here's everything you need to know to get you up to speed on the series heading into Game 4:
How to watch
(All times ET)
* - If necessary
Game 1, Thursday, April 12: Lightning 5, Devils 2
Game 2, Saturday, April 14: Lightning 5, Devils 3
Game 3, Monday, April 16: Devils 5, Lightning 2
Game 4, Wednesday, April 18: Lightning 3, Devils 1
Game 5, Saturday, April 21: Devils at Lightning, 3 p.m. -- NBC, NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports
*Game 6, Monday, April 23: Lighting at Devils, TBD
*Game 7, Wednesday, April 25: Devils at Lightning, TBD
NHL Playoffs odds
The Lightning had the league's most potent offense this year, finishing first in goals per game. They're led up front by Nikita Kucherov, who hit the 100-point mark for the first time this season, and Steven Stamkos, but they've got a deep range of weapons and role players that can cause headaches for opposing defenses. Meanwhile, the Devils finished 15th in scoring and will rely heavily on the contributions of Taylor Hall, whose 93 points this season were 41 more than the next guy on the Devils' stat sheet. (Rookie Nico Hischier finished with 52.)
The Devils' defense is small and doesn't exactly jump off a page. They've got a decent unit that prioritizes skill and hockey IQ over size and toughness, but they lack an overly fearsome shutdown man or pairing. Sami Vatanen effectively became New Jersey's top defenseman following a trade in the first half. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay has Victor Hedman -- a towering Norris candidate -- midseason acquisition Ryan McDonagh, and the solid Anton Stralman as workhorses on the back end. Rookie Mikhail Sergachev has proven to be a promising offensive threat from the blue line as well.
Since taking over as starter for Corey Schneider, Keith Kinkaid has been solid for New Jersey, though not overly impressive. Meanwhile, Tampa's Andrei Vasilevskiy was phenomenal through the first three quarters of the season, posting a .927 save percentage through 52 games. The heavy workload seemed to take a toll on Vasilevskiy, who is in his first full season as a starter, and he posted a sub .900 save percentage through his final dozen starts. The Lightning need to hope he catches a second wind heading into the postseason.
Both teams rank in the league's top 10 for power-play conversion. The Lightning's 23.9 percent success ranks third among all teams, while the Devils' 21.4 percent conversion rate has them tied for the 10th spot. However, New Jersey holds a significant advantage over Tampa Bay while on the penalty kill, as the Devils' 81.8 percent kill rate was good enough for eighth in the league. Tampa's penalty-killing unit is their primary weakness, as their 76.1 percent kill rate is tied for fourth-worst in the NHL. If the Devils can get to the power play at a decent rate, it could help them steal a game or two.
Edge: New Jersey
Blackburn: Tampa Bay just has too much star power and too much depth to be taken down by a Devils team that is still a few years (and significant pieces) away from being a true contender. The Lightning won't really get a true test until round two. Lightning in 5.
Benjamin: New Jersey can leave this season feeling satisfied no matter what happens here, and that's a good thing, because even though Tampa Bay has slowed since its peak Presidents' Trophy push, the Lightning's top-line scoring talent will be far too much to handle. Lightning in 5.
Skiver: The Lightning just have too much firepower for the Devils to really contest with. It's hard to imagine this series being particularly close, but the Devils put together a solid season to get behind for next year. Lightning in 4.
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