NHL Playoff Bracket 2020: Latest Odds, TV Schedule and Predictions

Jake RillSenior Writer ISeptember 16, 2020

New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) skates with the puck during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game against the New York Rangers Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Rangers won 3-1.(AP Photo/ Bill Kostroun)
Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

The New York Islanders staved off elimination for at least a couple of more days. Now, they'll need to do something no other team has done this postseason to keep their season alive: beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in consecutive games.

On Tuesday, New York pulled out a 2-1 win in double overtime in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, as Jordan Eberle scored the game-winning goal. The Lightning are 13-5 this postseason, but they've yet to lose back-to-back games.

The Islanders will look to even the series in Game 6 on Thursday. If they're successful, then Game 7 would take place Saturday.

Here's a look at the upcoming schedule, current Stanley Cup odds and a preview of Thursday's action, along with predictions.

    

Upcoming Schedule

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Thursday, Sept. 17

Game 6: No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 6 New York Islanders, 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

    

Saturday, Sept. 19

Game 7 (if necessary): No. 6 New York Islanders vs. No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC

    

Stanley Cup Odds

Tampa Bay Lightning -118 (bet $118 to win $100)

Dallas Stars +130 (bet $100 to win $130)

New York Islanders +1050

Odds obtained via DraftKings

    

Thursday Preview, Prediction

In Game 5, the Lightning again played strong defensively. They just didn't have the offense to match and help them end the Eastern Conference Final in quick fashion.

Now, Tampa is in uncharted territory this postseason. In the first two rounds, it defeated both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins in five games. So, this will be the first time that it will be playing a series that is going six games, and potentially even seven.

The Lightning will look to bounce back behind a defense that allowed only 24 shots in Game 5 while also aiming to generate more offense after Victor Hedman's second-period goal marked their only score Tuesday.

"It came down to one play. It's tough for us obviously, but this is hockey," the defenseman told reporters. "It's how you respond to this that's going to define you as a team. I'm not worried about how our group's going to respond to this."

The Islanders are coming off their best defensive showing of the series. After allowing 17 goals over the first four games of the series, they held the Lightning to one goal as Semyon Varlamov collected 37 saves.

Will New York be able to keep containing Tampa Bay? One thing hurting the Lightning is injuries, as center Brayden Point missed Game 3 with an unspecified injury, returned for Game 4 and then again sat out Game 5. He's been one of their top offensive players in the playoffs, and they clearly fare better when he's on the ice.

Nikita Kucherov also took a hard hit in Game 5 and took some time off the ice for Tampa Bay, but he eventually came back into the game.

Although the Lightning are a bit banged up, they've continued to show resilience throughout these playoffs. Expect that to continue Thursday, as they'll finish off the Islanders by getting back on track offensively and advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

New York made things competitive in Game 5, but Tampa Bay hasn't lost consecutive games this postseason for a reason, which is its depth on both ends of the ice. The Lightning are the overall better team, and they'll prove that with a Game 6 win that gets them back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2015.