The three most exciting words in sports are also the three most terrifying for a sports bettor – playoff overtime hockey.
Unlike extra innings, which can give a lifeline to a bettor with a big inning, or extra time in soccer, which has no effect on the outcome of the bet, playoff overtime hockey is decided by one goal and completely changes the situation.
That was the case on Tuesday, as the Pittsburgh Penguins stole Game 1 from the New York Rangers in the third overtime, ending an all-out war of a game. For Rangers bettors, a game that had looked like a highly probable win turned into a stunning loss simply because one goal went in at the wrong time. That’s what simultaneously makes the Stanley Cup playoffs one of the greatest events in sports and one of the harder ones to handicap.
Game 2 is sometimes a little easier, as long as you don’t let yourself overreact to what you saw in Game 1. Remember, one game does not make a series, and teams will make adjustments over the course of a best-of-7. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked in based on only one performance.
Here are the lines for May 4’s action.
MLB Odds, Schedule, and Probable Pitchers
Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes
Spread: BOS +1.5 (-250) | CAR -1.5 (+200)
Moneyline: BOS +100 | CAR -120
Total: 5.5 (-115)
Bruins vs. Hurricanes Game Time: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EDT
Bruins vs. Hurricanes Location: PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.
Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Spread: TB +1.5 (-200) | TOR -1.5 (+170)
Moneyline: TB +115 | TOR -140
Total: 6.5 (-115)
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Game Time: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST
Lightning vs. Maple Leafs Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
Spread: STL +1.5 (-225) | MIN -1.5 (+185)
Moneyline: STL +105| MIN -130
Total: 6.5 (-115)
Blues vs. Wild Game Time: Wednesday, 9:30 p.m. EST
Blues vs. Wild Location: Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul, Minn.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers
Spread: LAK +1.5 (-150) | EDM -1.5 (+125)
Moneyline: LAK +165 | EDM -200
Total: 6.5 (-115)
Kings vs. Oilers Game Time: Wednesday, 10 p.m. EST
Kings vs. Oilers Location: Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta
Game 2 tends to lend itself to some desperate situations, especially if the home team lost the series opener. Here are my NHL best bets for May 4.
NHL Best Bet May 4: Carolina Hurricanes ML (-120) vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
As long as the Hurricanes remain undervalued, it’s a good idea to keep backing them. Carolina cruised to a 5-1 win over the Bruins in Game 1 and has now outscored Boston by 21-2 in four meetings this season. The Bruins are a better team than they showed in Game 1, but this appears that Boston is getting a favorable line based on reputation rather than actual talent.
The Bruins might have mauled the Hurricanes in each of their previous two playoff meetings, but this Carolina team has looked a step ahead all season and appears to be a genuine threat to win the Stanley Cup. The value is too great with a team this talented at home.
NHL Best Bet May 4: Toronto Maple Leafs -1.5 (+170) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 7:30 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
One game doesn’t make a series, but the Lightning are showing some signs of the same fever that gripped the Penguins after they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017. Two years later, the Penguins were emotionally and physically spent and exited the playoffs in four non-competitive games with the New York Islanders.
The Maple Leafs looked hungry throughout a 5-0 grounding of the Lightning in Game 1, and after going through 82 games plus eight playoff series over the past two calendar years (remember, Tampa Bay didn’t really get an offseason in 2020 because of the rearranged schedule caused by the pandemic), I have to wonder if the Lightning have anything left in the tank. If the Leafs cruise here, I think this series is over.
NHL Best Bet May 4: St. Louis Blues ML (+105) vs. Minnesota Wild, 9:30 p.m. EST, available at BetMGM
I expect Minnesota to be more competitive than it was in Game 1, but St. Louis played a perfect game in the opener and likely put some real doubt in the minds of the Wild. Playoff success is not something Minnesota is familiar with, as the Wild have lost five straight first-round series. Nor is Minnesota all that adept at facing the Blues, who have now won 10 of their past 11 matchups against the Wild.
That adds up to the value lying with St. Louis, even in a second straight game in Saint Paul. Minnesota should come out desperate and give a better showing in this matchup, but I think the Blues will head home to Missouri with a 2-0 series lead.