NHL Betting: In-form Tampa Bay To Overcome Capitals’ Threat

Tampa Bay Lightning 2.15, the Draw 3.85, Washington Capitals 2.90 (BET and STREAM LIVE  on Unibet TV from 00.35 GMT)

If their 6-5 thriller on December 10th is anything to go by there's a real treat in store at Times Forum. Despite losing out that night, it's Tampa who have been much the better team since.

If the season's awards were being handed out right now Jon Cooper would get my vote for top coach and their improvement on last year shows no sign of relenting under adversity. On current form they're the hottest team in the Atlantic and have only failed to get at least a point at home twice going back to the opening two weeks.

Division Washington only have three wins from eleven post that Alex Ovechkin-inspired comeback and the Russian's four goals that night are only just short of the five he's netted over the Caps' disappointing spell. Provided the Lightning have learned from their mistakes as you'd expect them to I rate their chances of beating the handicap.

Carolina Hurricanes 2.25, the Draw 3.80, Toronto Maple Leafs 2.75 (BET and STREAM LIVE  on Unibet TV from 00.05 GMT)

Winning a dramatic Winter Classic on New Year's Day hasn't proved the springboard Toronto might have expected; instead it's led to a pair of defeats with 12 goals against.

In contrast, the Carolina Hurricanes are unbeaten in 2014 and have swept to four in a row, this the last of three contests for the two clubs with the season series currently split 1-1. In terms of making it five the 'Canes will take major encouragement from Toronto's road record, a total of two wins both of which came via shootouts is all the Leafs have to show since the end of October and that's twelve games worth.

Jeff Skinner's role for Carolina has been considerable scoring just under a fifth of the team's goals despite missing ten games of season, Alex Semin has picked up his play recently but the same can't be said of last year's top goal getter Jiri Tlusty. For the Leafs Tyler Bozak has a point streak that stretches back November but even accounting for missed time because of injury it's still at an impressive eight games, his presence on the top unit also positively impacts on the play of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.

There's a huge dropoff in Toronto's powerplay efficiency away from home but I'd attribute their lack of success to being overly aggressive which has led to both bad decisions in their own zone and spending too much time killing penalties. With that in mind back Carolina to stay hot at 2.25.

Best Bet: Tampa Bay Lightning to overcome -1.5 handicap at 3.00.