The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are here as the Tampa Bay Lightning will head down to Sunrise to face the Florida Panthers for Game 1 of the First Round. We're here to share our NHL odds series, make a Lightning-Panthers prediction, and pick while showing you how to watch.

The Lightning finished the season 45-29-8 to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the seventh season in a row. Ultimately, that record put them in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and the first wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, setting them up for a showdown with a familiar foe. They will face the Panthers, who they know from their interstate rivalry. Now, the goal is to start the series hot.

The Panthers finished the season with a 52-24-6 record. Amazingly, it was a solid body of work for the organization, as their hard work earned them the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cats will try to change history as they face a team they have encountered many times over the years. Ultimately, it will be a tough challenge.

The Panthers took two of three games this season. Overall, this will be their third playoff meeting, with both happening recently. The Bolts took a series 4-2 in 2021. Then, they swept the Panthers in the following season. The Panthers had a home-ice advantage on both occasions. Now, they will get home ice again. Will the third time be the charm for the Panthers?

Here are the NHL Odds, courtesy of FanDuel. 

NHL Playoffs Odds: Lightning-Panthers Game 1 Odds

Tampa Bay Lightning: +1.5 (-192)

Moneyline: +138

Florida Panthers: -1.5 (+158)

Moneyline: -170

Over: 5.5 (-134)

Under: 5.5 +110)

How to Watch Lightning vs. Panthers Game 1

Time: 12:40 PM ET/9:40 AM PT

TV: ESPN, SportsNet, TVAS and Bally Sports Sun

Stream: fuboTV (Click for free trial)

Why The Lightning Will Cover The Spread/Win

The Lightning still have the same core group that helped them win consecutive Stanley Cups and appear in three straight. Now, the goal is to try to get one more title out of them before the window shuts. The offense will be the first thing to watch, and many hockey fans know these names.

Nikita Kucherov is still one of the best players in the world. Remarkably, he had 44 goals and 100 assists, including 13 powerplay goals. Kucherov had some help in the form of Brayden Point. Significantly, he tallied 46 goals and 44 assists, including 15 powerplay tallies. Veteran Steven Stamkos remained solid all over the ice. Ultimately, he finished with 40 goals and 41 assists, including 19 powerplay conversions. Defenseman Victor Hedman was productive again. Overall, he had 13 goals and 63 assists, including four powerplay snipes. Brandon Hagel was a good playmaker. Concurrently, he ended the season with 26 goals and 49 assists.

But the one thing that will determine how well the Bolts do is their defense and goaltending. Remember, they endured a 9-2 drubbing at the hands of these Panthers earlier this season. That is why they need Andrei Vasilevskiy to return to his old playoff form. Unfortunately, he took a step back this season, going 30-20-2 with a 2.90 goals-against average and a save percentage of .900. The Lightning need him to be much better.

The Lightning will cover the spread if their offense can generate some early goals. Then, they need the defense to close off some lanes and prevent some good chances.

Why The Panthers Will Cover The Spread/Win

The Panthers' explosive offense helped them beat most opponents this season. Their flurry of goals made things difficult for everyone, including the Lightning.

Sam Reinhart was amazing this season, generating 57 goals and 37 assists, including 27 powerplay conversions. Additionally, he had five short-handed goals. But Reinhart struggled in the faceoff circle, winning 234 draws and losing 296. Therefore, he has to find a way to win more draws to give his team some offensive scoring chances.

Matthew Tkachuk continued to play amazing hockey. Significantly, he generated 26 goals and 62 assists, including six powerplay markers. Aleksander Barkov finished the season with 23 goals and 57 assists, including five powerplay tallies. Furthermore, he was awesome in the faceoff circle, winning 630 draws and losing 470. Carter Verhaeghe was solid, with 34 goals and 38 assists, including eight powerplay tallies.

The Panthers improved by miles this season because their defense was stout. Remarkably, Sergei Bobrovsky led the charge with a record of 36-17-4 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a save percentage of .915 with six shutouts.

The Panthers will cover the spread if they can generate some scoring chances. Then, they need to avoid taking penalties.

Final Lightning-Panthers Game 1 Prediction & Pick

The Lightning and Panthers both have exceptional offenses and goaltenders. However, the low line is incredibly tempting, and we believe that this game will have a flurry of goals. Expect the Bolts and Cats to score a lot of goals, with neither team letting up. The Lightning and Panthers will combine for at least six goals in this one, possibly seven, to shatter the over/under. The over is the pick for Game 1 of the First Round series.

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Final Lightning-Panthers Game 1 Prediction & Pick: Over: 5.5 (-134)