NHL Predictions: February 18th Late Games – Featuring Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals

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Welcome back to NHL Predictions! Each day, the Last Word on Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each game. This is the late game slate of NHL Predictions. Be sure and check out the early games of NHL Predictions too.

Note: Tonight’s tilt between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars due to severe weather and power outages throughout Texas.

NHL Predictions

Buffalo Sabres vs. Washington Capitals

Head-to-Head: Sabres 1 – 3 Capitals

2021 hasn’t been kind to the Buffalo Sabres. After a middling .500 start, a COVID outbreak hit the team after their game against the New Jersey Devils on the last day of January. The team returned to play with a set of back-to-back games against the New York Islanders on February 15th and 16th and lost both. Still without arguably their best player so far this year in Rasmus Ristolainen, they’ll struggle to turn around their losing habits tonight against a Washington Capitals team that is now fully healthy after their own bout with COVID. With Nicklas Backstrom in the midst of a career year (19 points in 14 games) and adequate netminding from newly christened starter Vitek Vanecek (6-3-2, .906 save percentage), Washington will be a tough out for the Sabres tonight. You won’t want to miss what Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and friends could do tonight against Buffalo.

Prediction: Capitals win 3-2.

San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues

Head-to-Head: Sharks 1 – 1 Blues

While the San Jose Sharks have gone 3-2-1 in the month of February, the team is still a shell of its former contending self. With both Radim Simek and Erik Karlsson injured on defence, it’s a scary situation on the Sharks’ back end. Martin Jones has continued to be unimpressive with a .873 save percentage, despite carrying a 6-4-0 record. That’ll be a tough sell against this St. Louis Blues team, who’d scored four goals in two straight games before being shut out by the Arizona Coyotes. While St. Louis could still potentially be without Jaden Schwartz, great recent play from Jordan Kyrou, Brayden Schenn, and David Perron (leads team with 15 points) will be key in a Blues victory this evening.

Prediction: Blues win 3-1.

Los Angeles Kings vs. Arizona Coyotes

Head-to-Head: Kings 0 – 0 Coyotes

This season has been a year of growing pains for the Los Angeles Kings, but things look like they’re starting to click after scoring 10 goals in their past two games. Their old guard is still leading the way, however – Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Drew Doughty are the only Kings with more than 10 points on the year. Their most impressive youngster has actually been goaltender Calvin Petersen, who’s been one of the best netminders in the league to start the year with a .926 save percentage. That may all be for not against a defensively dialled-in Arizona Coyotes team, however. The Yotes are fighting for early playoff positioning with a 7-6-2 record, and having won four out of their past seven (all against the Blues), confidence is beginning to creep back into the locker room. Things could turn low-scoring tonight for the Kings, which may not work out in their favour.

Prediction: Coyotes win 2-1.

Minnesota Wild vs. Anaheim Ducks

Head-to-Head: Wild 1 – 1 Ducks

The Minnesota Wild are another team returning from a lengthy COVID pause this week. Things didn’t go well for them in their first match back, losing 4-0 to the Kings. They’ll look to turn things around tonight, and there’s reason to believe they can. While they haven’t been an offensive dynamo by any stretch, improved goaltending this season (Cam Talbot has a .920 save percentage) might be enough in its own right to shut down an even more anemic Anaheim Ducks offence. No skater has yet to register 10 points on the year, and Max Comtois is the only Duck operating at more than a half-point-per-game pace. Things are bad in SoCal, and the Wild should regain some confidence tonight.

Prediction: Wild win 2-1.

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