NHL picks, bets at present: Newest traces for Maple Leafs at Lightning, Oilers at Kings and extra

All four Stanley Cup Playoffs series taking the ice on Sunday stand at 2-1 through three games. Boston got its first win of the series against Carolina on Friday and the three other series were 1-1 entering Game 3.

The shorthanded Blues were dominated at home against Minnesota and are in a hole. The two-time defending champion Lightning also have their backs against the wall a bit after falling at home in Game 3 against Toronto. What will Sunday’s games have in store?

Sunday’s Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule:

  • Game 4: Carolina Hurricanes at Boston Bruins — 12:30 pm ET — ESPN, SN
  • Game 4: Minnesota Wild at St. Louis Blues — 4:30 pm ET — TBS, SN360
  • Game 4: Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Lightning — 7 pm ET — TBS, CBC, SN
  • Game 4: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings — 10 pm ET — TBS, CBC, SN

Every day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Athletic’s writers will make their picks, straight up. We put our picks, the TV schedule and all series coverage, plus the latest odds, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked below the picks. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

Hurricanes at Bruins

Team Moneyline Total

+105

O 5.5 (-125)

-130

U 5.5 (+105)

Game 3: Bruins 4, Hurricanes 2 | Carolina leads 2-1

What was the key?: You know what’s been struggling a lot recently? The Bruins’ power play. Their issues were deeper than just missing David Pastrnak while he was injured, but his absence only magnified them. Fixing their struggles on the advantage against a Hurricanes’ power kill was a tall ask, which is why Games 1 and 2 were such a struggle. While Patrice Bergeron managed to break through on Wednesday, the power play still went 1-for-5. That’s why last night was so important. Brad Marchand set up Pastrnak with a royal road pass. While he didn’t even fire immediately, giving Pyotr Kochetkov a chance to reset, he still beat him with his elite finish. Figuring out their special teams — on both ends of the ice — was quite important for Boston, and that’s a reason why they’re not facing elimination in Game 4.

Key stat: Marchand’s second period goal gave Boston their first lead of the series. First lead! In Game 3! While the Hurricanes have been using their second- and third-string goaltenders! That’s something.

Bruins Worry Meter: 😬😬😬 … Boston is just not dominating the series enough to give us better vibes, yet.

Hurricanes Worry Meter: 🙃🙃 … They’ll be fine, probably.

— Shayna Goldman

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentile

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Wild at Blues

Team Moneyline Total

-105

O 6.5 (-105)

-115

U 6.5 (-115)

Game 3: Wild 5, Blues 1 | Minnesota leads 2-1

Who was the guy?: Joel Eriksson Ek had an assist in the first minute of the game, and a big goal of his own in the first minute of the third period. He laid heavy hits, and found his way to shots from dangerous areas. He looks made for playoff hockey.

What was the key?: st. Louis’ banged-up ‘D’ corps. The Blues were already without trade-deadline acquisition Nick Leddy (upper body) and had Marco Scandella playing through a lower-body injury when Torey Krug left the game after just three minutes of ice time and did not return. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 of 30 for Minnesota, and two Wild goals in the first 140 seconds certainly made a difference, but the Blues’ injuries on the back end loomed large as they tried to come back — and now loom even larger going forward.

Key Stat: Zero, as in the number of times Ville Husso gave up four or more goals in back-to-back games during the regular season. But he just did so in Games 2 and 3, and while the expected goals say he gave up almost exactly what the shot quality would have estimated Friday, Jordan Binnington‘s presence on the bench means there could be some goalie controversy brewing in St. Louis this weekend.

— Max Bultman

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentile

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Maple Leafs at Lightning

Team Moneyline Total

-105

O 6.5 (-105)

-115

U 6.5 (-115)

Game 3: Maple Leafs 5, Lightning 2 | Toronto leads 2-1

What was the key?: Toronto’s depth scoring really delivered, with the two late goals from Ilya Mikheyevone from David Kampfand another from Colin Blackwell. If the Leafs are getting four goals from their bottom six, they’re not losing.

Key stat: 17 blocked shots for the Leafs, nearly double what Tampa Bay put up. Certainly, you’d rather have the puck than be blocking it, and the Lightning more than doubled up the Maple Leafs in shot attempts in the third. But if you want to protect a lead against the two-time champs, you’re going to have to eat some rubber, and Toronto showed it had no problem doing so.

The moment it was over: Mikheyev’s first empty-netter, which made it 4-2 with 1:40 left. Until then, the Lightning were getting real pressure in the third period, having fought back from down 3-0 to make it a one-goal game. The old ghosts were starting to stir. But Nikita Kucherov‘s pass from below the goal line — after pulling the puck out from a scrum — missed its target at the point and cleared the zone, springing Pierre Engvall and Mikheyev toward the empty net.

— Max Bultman

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentile

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


Oilers at Kings

Team Moneyline Total

-160

O 6.5 (-105)

+135

U 6.5 (-115)

Game 3: Oilers 8, Kings 2 | Edmonton leads 2-1

Who was the guy?: In an 8-2 win, there are usually quite a few players to highlight. Close your eyes and point at the scoresheet and you’ll probably land on one of the seven players to have a multi-point game. One of them in this game was Connor McDavid who got that scoring started when he rushed down the ice and threaded a pass to Leon Draisaitl who put the puck in the net. But there’s more about McDavid’s game that stands out from Game 3. A lot was made of how he would handle the pressure of facing off against Philip Danaultwho shut down some of the league’s best last postseason, or former Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar. And rightfully so. But look at what McDavid managed in Game 3. In 6:13 against Kopitar at five-on-five, he helped the Oilers generate 22 shot attempts for only five against. In 4:28 versus Danault, the ice was still tilted, with shots 10-4.

What was the key?: The Oilers are just a better team than the Kings. Literally, that’s the key in this series. And if Edmonton can overcome the fact that Los Angeles has a couple of excellent shutdown centers, then it’s over for the Kings. In Game 1, this was a problem for Edmonton. In Game 2, the matchups didn’t matter, the home team was just better. In theory, the Kings controlling the matchups could give them an edge to shake up this series. In reality, it has not so far. And without them being able to shut down the Oilers’ best, they can’t go very far. This team has to suppress incoming offense at a high rate because they legitimately can’t keep up otherwise.

Key stat: Mike Smith stopped 44 of 46 shots and saved 1.95 goals above expected, according to Natural Stat Trick. While he had offensive support, things could have gotten chaotic had he let a couple slip past him.

Shayna Goldman

Writer Straight Up Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Sean Gentile

Sean McIndoe

Kevin Kurz

Jesse Granger

Shayna Goldman


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(Photo of Connor McDavid: Harry How / Getty Images)

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