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 as well.
Disclaimer: The game between the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning has been postponed due to the power outages caused by weather in Dallas.
New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Islanders 1 – 2 Penguins
The New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are reasonably even in terms of record. However, when it comes to the series between these teams, the Penguins are taking the cake. Players like Jason Zucker and Bryan Rust have played exceptionally well during their outings against the Isles. Don’t ever count out Sidney Crosby either, who notched a goal in their 4-1 beat down of the Isles on Thursday.
In other news, Tristan Jarry is starting to look like an NHL calibre goaltender again. Another good start for him could wither any hopes of an Islanders team with very little offensive prowess coming out on top.
Prediction: Penguins win 4-2
Nashville Predators vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Predators 2 – 1 Blue Jackets
The Nashville Predators have had a rough go so far this season. With rumours surrounding John Hynes and his future with the team, the Predators have looked to be in complete chaos. The offence is lacklustre and doesn’t generate very many high-danger scoring opportunities. Additionally, when they get those chances, the team doesn’t convert. Filip Forsberg has been a shining star in the heap of mediocrity that is the Predators forward group. Look for him to pop a couple into the back of the net.
On the other end, Patrik Laine is always a goal-scoring threat. His six goals in nine games so far this season and 144 goals in 314 career games make him a standout among the Columbus Blue Jackets forwards. This game could be a very tight defensive matchup, or it could be a barn burner. The unpredictability of these two teams is astounding.
Prediction: Columbus wins 3-2
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 2 – 1 Canadiens
One of the most exciting matchups in the Canadian division, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, are two high octane teams with lots of scoring. Auston Matthews continues to stretch his impressive goal-scoring streak out with 16 in 17 games, while Mitch Marner contributes by adding a boatload of assists. One pleasantly surprising story is the new life that Joe Thornton has found on Matthews’ and Marner’s line. He’s at a point per game, which includes three goals, only four away from his total all of last season.
Three players who have all done well this season against the Maple Leafs for the Canadiens are Josh Anderson, Tomas Tatar, and Jonathan Drouin. With their excellent track record against the Maple Leafs this season, expect one of them to make a difference if Montreal comes out on top.
Prediction: Maple Leafs win 5-3
San Jose Sharks vs. St. Louis Blues
Head-to-Head: Sharks 1 – 2 Blues
The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues have somewhat of a rivalry dating back to their 2019 Western Conference Final meeting. Since then, the two franchises have gone in entirely different directions. The Sharks have started their rebuild, while the Blues maintain a high status among the competition. Additions like Mike Hoffman have helped them keep their position in the upper echelon of teams, while Vladimir Tarasenko is out with an injury. David Perron, who registered three points, including the overtime winning goal in their last matchup on Thursday, has been a difference-maker as well. He currently leads the Blues with 18 points, six of them being goals.
As for the Sharks, it’s the usual suspects. Captain Logan Couture leads the team in goals, assists, and points, along with Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane‘s help. The biggest story here will be the Sharks goaltending. Whether it be Martin Jones or Devan Dubnyk, they are the key to a Sharks victory.
Prediction: Blues win 2-1
Minnesota Wild vs. Anaheim Ducks
Head-to-Head: Wild 2 – 1 Ducks
For the first time in their history, the Minnesota Wild are enjoyable to watch (sorry Wild fans). The emergence of Kirill Kaprizov has finally brought the Wild attention around the NHL. However, as much electricity as Kaprizov brings, it’s the lesser-known players that help make this team run well. A player like Joel Eriksson Ek, who has also emerged this season by leading the team in goals with five, is someone that most fans wouldn’t think of as a gear that makes the clock tick. He and young behemoth Jordan Greenway, who leads the team in assists and points with eight and ten respectively, are guiding this Wild team in the right direction.
On the Anaheim Ducks end, Max Comtois blast onto the scene early this season. He leads the team with seven goals and nine points. Any of these players could make an impact, but one player who can turn the game around in an instant is goaltender John Gibson. Watch for his game, and if the Wild haven’t broken through early, a Ducks victory is likely.
Prediction: Ducks win 2-0
Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Oilers 1 – 1 Flames
The Edmonton Oilers against the Calgary Flames is always must-see TV. Last year it was the Matthew Tkachuk vs. Zack Kassian show. Not to mention we got a good goalie fight before the season was eventually shut down due to COVID-19. This season, the rivalry has yet to explode, but it is still great hockey even when there aren’t fights every two seconds. There are marquee players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl that anyone would tune in to watch. There are also players like Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jesse Puljujarvi, all of which are having good seasons in their own respects. The defence outside of Darnell Nurse, who has performed at a Norris Trophy level by analytics, looks very mediocre.
The other end of the spectrum provides names like Matthew Tkachuk, the main instigator. Also, Johnny Gaudreau, who is currently having a bounce-back season. He leads the Flames with nine goals and 17 points. It’s good to see Johnny bounce back after a very disappointing performance last year. Any time these teams get together, there is always fireworks of some kind, and expecting less is selling yourself short
Prediction: Oilers win 5-3