Welcome back to NHL Predictions, March 2nd edition! 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 for March 2nd featuring the Ottawa Senators vs Montreal Canadiens. Be sure and check out the early-game slate of NHL Predictions, too.
NHL Predictions Including Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens
Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Senators 3-1 Canadiens
North Division basement dwellers, the Ottawa Senators, are currently embracing life as the underdogs. They’ve won six of their last nine outings, creating chaos within the divisional hierarchy. Needless to say, Sens’ fans are being given plenty to look forward to with the continual improvement of their young corps. Right-winger Drake Batherson (nine goals in 2020-21) has tied the franchise record for goals in six straight games. He joins an esteemed list of Senators’ legends which includes Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza.
So far, the Dominique Ducharme era hasn’t given the Canadiens that coveted ‘new manager bounce’; the team is 0-1-1 since they fired coach Claude Julien. Worse still, the Habs are now on a five-game winless streak. They have conceded at least one power-play goal in all of those games. However, Shea Weber‘s men continue to dominate at five on five; Montreal leads the league in expected goal share and is second in high danger scoring chances.
Prediction: Canadiens benefit from Monday night off and win 5-2
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 1-0 Predators
Carolina (third in the Central) is coming off a two-game sweep of the Florida Panthers, after their third-string goaltender, Alex Nedeljkovic, stole the show in game two. Despite Florida having over double the expected goals of the Hurricanes, Nedeljkovic stopped a whopping 44 of 46 shots to claim his third win of the season. Elsewhere within the Canes’ roster, Martin Necas has scored back-to-back game-winners and Vincent Trocheck leads the team with 10 goals. Carolina’s .690 points percentage is sixth-best in the league.
The Nashville Predators‘ last eight games have been against the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Despite going 5-3-0 during that stretch, the Preds were in dog fights for all of those games and their losses were particularly ugly efforts. On the bright side, the Predators finally broke their leading funk over the weekend, becoming the last team in the NHL to lead a game after two periods. They’ve entered the third period leading in their last two games against Columbus, and are now 2-0-0 when ahead after two. Nine of Nashville’s next 11 games are against the top three teams in the division; one can’t help but feel that this stretch will define their season.
Prediction: Hurricanes prove too tough for Nashville, 3-2
Vancouver Canucks vs. Winnipeg Jets
Head-to-Head: Canucks 2-2 Jets
Monday night, Thatcher Demko stopped 27 shots to record his first shutout of the year and halt the Canucks four-game skid. This may quell some of the fanbase’s anxiety regarding the goaltending situation in the post-Markstrom era. Although, often this season, Vancouver’s defence has been hanging its goalies out to dry and this is backed up by the underlying metrics; the Canucks rank 31st in the league in expected goals against at even strength. If the team isn’t going to fix its play on the backend, then part of its resolve has to be goal-scoring: Vancouver is 8-0-0 when they score four in a game.
Winnipeg huffed and puffed but couldn’t get a foothold in Monday’s game after Vancouver scored on three redirected shots from the point. That makes it two off-colour nights in a row for Paul Maurice’s side and the first time this year that Mark Scheifele has gone pointless in two-straight games. Luckily for the Jets, the chance at redemption presents itself in express time with the team playing in its fourth back-to-back of the season.
Prediction: Winnipeg claim redemption, Jets take it 4-1
Tampa Lightning vs. Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1-0 Stars
Tampa Bay continues to set the standard in the modified Central Division. After suffering a 4-0 beatdown to the Canes on February 20th, the Bolts have gone 4-0-0 and outscored their opponents 15-3 in that span. They’ve also recently welcomed back Anthony Cirelli to the lineup after he missed six games with an upper-body injury. His return will bolster Tampa’s penalty-killing unit, which is ranked second in the league. Mind you, Yanni Gourde filled in brilliantly with extra minutes on the PK in Cirelli’s absence. The Lightning will continue to disrupt Dallas’ fragile powerplay with their aggressive forechecking style.
The season feels like it is slipping away from the Dallas Stars. The 5-0 demolition job they were handed by the Bolts in game one on Saturday provided uncomfortable viewing; especially considering the Stars are only five months removed from a Stanley Cup Final series against the very same opponents. Dallas’ powerplay continues to hamper the team; since their four-game win streak to start the year, the Stars have gone 7/43 (16.3 percent) on the powerplay. That rate ranks 23rd in the league.
Prediction: No respite for Dallas, Lightning wins 5-3