The first night of the 2021-22 National Hockey League season is in the books.
While it’s great to have hockey back, it would have been that much better for yours truly if the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning had actually shown up.
After a winning weekend with the NFL, CFL and college football, I was feeling a little loose staring down a two-team parlay with the Lightning and the Vegas Golden Knights at almost even odds.
Getting two of the top three choices to win the Cup on home ice against inferior opponents that were missing key pieces, it seemed like an easy choice.
What could go wrong?
Here’s the Morning Coffee for Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.
Penguins upset Lightning in opener
Tampa Bay opened -180 on the money line versus Pittsburgh, but that number climbed as high as -270 at one spot before puck drop.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning had won seven straight season openers. Plus, the Penguins were without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel.
None of that mattered.
Pittsburgh pulled off the upset with a 6-2 win to cash as a +215 money line underdog.
Danton Heinen was +1800 to score the first goal of the NHL season.
The two teams combined for six goals in the final 10 minutes of regulation, including five goals with the Tampa Bay net empty, to cash the over (5.5).
The Penguins scored three empty-net goals, making them the first team to manage the feat since the Detroit Red Wings did it in October of 1984.
For the Lightning, the 6-2 loss matched the largest margin of defeat in a home opener by a defending Stanley Cup champion in the expansion era.
Golden Knights spoil Kraken debut
The Vegas Golden Knights (-240 ML) held on for a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken in the latter’s first NHL game.
The over 5.5 also cashed.
Seattle rallied from three goals down to make it interesting in the third, but Chandler Stephenson’s goal with just over 11 minutes to go in the final frame stood as the winner.
Max Pacioretty scored twice for Vegas.
Mark Stone finished with three assists.
Vegas improved to 91-0-1 all-time in the regular season when leading by three goals or more.
Meanwhile, Ryan Donato scored the first goal in Kraken franchise history.
The Kraken were a +200 money line underdog, and it’s only one loss, but we did see a small adjustment to their odds to make the playoffs from -125 to -120.
You can still bet on Seattle’s regular-season point total over/under at 90.5.
In case you missed it, the pre-game show in Las Vegas was wild.
Astros, Braves advance
The Houston Astros booked their spot in the ALCS for the fifth straight year with a 10-1 win over the Chicago White Sox in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Houston was -130 to beat the White Sox in the ALDS and +450 to win the series in exactly four games.
The Astros opened as a -150 favourite to win the ALCS versus the Boston Red Sox.
A couple of hours later, the Atlanta Braves clinched a spot in the NLCS with a 5-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers to take the series 3-1.
Atlanta was +125 to win the series and then +240 to advance after losing Game 1.
The Braves will await the winner of the other NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers (-190) avoided elimination with a 7-2 win over the Giants on Tuesday night to even that series at 2-2.
Game 5 of that series goes Thursday night in San Francisco.
As of this morning, that game is essentially a pick’em with Julio Urias set to get the nod for Los Angeles opposite Logan Webb.