It’s all on the line Saturday night in Toronto as the Maple Leafs and Lightning face off in a deciding Game 7 at Scotiabank Arena.
The Leafs failed to exorcise their demons in Game 6 with the Bolts extending the series with a 4-3 overtime win. Now, the Leafs and their fanbase are reliving past heartbreak ahead of Saturday night’s elimination game.
Can the Leafs win their first playoff series in 18 years or will the experience of the reigning champs be too much to overcome? Find out in our free NHL picks and predictions for Lightning vs. Maple Leafs.
Lightning vs Leafs Game 7 odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
The Maple Leafs opened as slight -125 home favorites with a total of 6.5. In the Leafs’ three home games already in the series, they’ve closed as -120, -135 and -130 favorites, winning two of those. Tonight’s total of 6.5 is leaning to the Over.
Lightning vs Leafs Game 7 predictions
Predictions made on 5/13/2022 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Lightning vs Leafs Game 7 info
• Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
• Date: Saturday, May 14, 2022
• Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: TNT, Sportsnet
Lightning vs Leafs series odds (tied 3-3)
Lightning vs Leafs Game 7 betting preview
Leafs: Rasmus Sandin D (Out).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Lightning vs Leafs head-to-head record in the series
Lightning: 3-3 SU, 21 goals for.
Leafs: 3-3 SU, 23 goals for.
Betting trend to know
The Leafs are 50-18 SU in their last 68 games as a favorite. Find more NHL betting trends for Lightning vs. Leafs.
Lightning vs Leafs Game 7 picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
For a team that’s said it’s learned from its past mistakes, the Leafs sure like to find themselves in familiar territory. They failed to eliminate the Lightning on Thursday night, dropping Game 6 in overtime by a 4-3 final, and in doing so, move to 0-9 SU in series-clinching games in their last nine attempts. Getting to the next round has been seemingly impossible for Kyle Dubas’ team, but can Saturday night be different?
Game 6 was the most competitive and evenly-matched game of the series and one thing is very prevalent when the Leafs play their best game: Tampa can’t keep up.
The Leafs are the much faster team and if they can minimize mistakes, they can get the proverbial monkey off their back.
There are many things in the favor of Saturday’s home team. First off, Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy has not looked sharp at all in the series. He’s played more hockey than any other goalie over the last three seasons and has allowed at least three goals in all six games of the series.
He currently owns a 3.34 GAA and .885 SV% in the playoffs. Although he’s posted five straight shutouts in series-clinching games, he isn’t in top form right now and the Leafs can get to him in Game 7.
Secondly, the Bolts’ top dogs have not looked great — especially at even strength. Steven Stamkos has just 15 shots on net through six games and four total points. Kucherov has done most of his damage on the power play with five of his eight points coming with the man advantage. The Colton-Paul-Hagel line has been held in check over the last two games, as well and we saw Hagel lacks finish.
With the referees finally slowing down on the tick-tack penalties, the advantage lies with the Leafs. Tampa has been living or dying with its power play in this series and has seven goals over the last five games. Only the Blues have scored more power-play goals in the series and only the Hurricanes have had more PP time than the Bolts. If the refs let this game play out, Tampa could be at a disadvantage.
Finally, and a very underrated aspect of hockey handicapping, is the Leafs’ dominance in the face-off circle. The Leafs are winning 58% of the faceoffs which is the second-best mark in the playoffs. John Tavares is winning an absurd 66% of his draws while Auston Matthews is winning well over 50% himself.
These draws have been so critical in the defensive end as well as in the offensive zone where the Leafs have already had success scoring off the draw. Now with the last change, head coach Sheldon Keefe can choose his matchups which is a huge advantage. Tavares is winning 78% of his draws at home in the series.
TIP BY TONE!! pic.twitter.com/WMnVD3LzYN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 13, 2022
We know that Leaf fans are dreading another Game 7 letdown but we’re surprisingly optimistic about their chances Saturday. Vasilevskiy has usually been the difference-maker but he is certainly not in top form, while the Bolts likely won’t get bailed out with another seven power-play opportunities or another 5-on-3.
Mitch Marner has looked like the best skater on the ice and the Leafs’ defense has been solid throughout the series. If the Leafs can avoid costly mistakes and Jack Campbell can start out hot, we like the chances of the Leafs punching their tickets to the second round for the first time since 2004.
Prediction: Maple Leafs moneyline (-125 at bet365)
The Over is 5-1 in this series heading into Game 7, while the only Under was back in Game 1 with Toronto’s 5-0 shutout win. Through six games, we’ve seen a total of 44 goals (7.33 goals per game) which is pretty representative of the 39 expected goals recorded.
Over the last nine meetings, the Over is 8-1 as neither team has had issues scoring in any of the meetings this season.
Vasilevskiy has certainly underperformed to date in the postseason and hasn’t held the Leafs to Under three goals in all six games of the series. He has a -1.00 goals saved above expected per 60, and has been one of the worst goalies in the playoffs from a stats perspective. The former Vezina winner has let in some uncharacteristic goals in the series and has seemingly been affected by the huge workload over the last three seasons.
Campbell has also looked shaky at times. He has been pulled once already in the series and carries a 3.33 GAA and .893 SV% into Game 7. He has a worse goals-saved-above-expected mark than Vasilevskiy as well. Considering his freezes above expected is the best rate in the playoffs, he’s been beaten on the initial shot too often.
Each game in this series has seen at least 6.00 expected goals, per Natural Stat Trick, and each team has been getting plenty of chances. The Leafs’ speed poses a problem for the Bolts and Toronto’s transition game is one of the best in the league.
The Bolts get after it with three solid lines that relentlessly forecheck and battle for every puck. Toronto is prone to mistakes and Tampa has been capitalizing on them so far. Tampa also has no issues moving the puck up ice with its defense as Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Cal Foote can push the puck but that can also open them up to Toronto’s neutral zone counter.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 11, 2022
Each club has been getting average goaltending, has elite talent on the top lines, and has enough supporting talent in the middle-six to find matchup advantages throughout the game.
We expect this to be a cautious game in the early going but once that first goal falls, these two teams should revert back to the ways that have seen them hit the Over in eight of the last nine meetings.
Prediction: Over 6.5 (-108 at Coolbet)
The Leafs are 0-9 SU in series-clinching games and to be honest, it’s just a trend. Toronto has played a very good series against a team that had the goaltending, defense, and coaching advantages heading into the series.
Keefe has shown he can be creative on the fly and has mixed his lines well in different situations. Toronto has the most faith in its blueline as it has all season (even with Justin Holl in the lineup), Campbell has been serviceable, and the big boys are pulling their weight.
Tavares is awaking from his slumber and proving a ton of value in the offensive-zone faceoffs while Keefe should be able to find the right matchup for Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner who have a combined 12 points in the three home games in the series.
Tampa has been consistent but when Toronto is playing its best, the defending champs have looked slow and tired. It’s up to Leafs to bring their best game on Saturday and if they do, they could be heading to the next round and quiet the noise around them.
If the Leafs can stay out of the box, Game 7 is theirs for the taking and there is more motivation for the home side to come out flying out of the gate.
Pick: Maple Leafs moneyline (-125 at bet365)