Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 6th 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 first slate of NHL Predictions for April 6th, featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers. Be sure to check out the other two slates of games today.
NHL Predictions: Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers
Buffalo Sabres vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Sabres 3 – 3 Devils
Since snapping their 18-game losing streak, the Sabres have been performing noticeably better. They earned three of four available points from their last two games, both against the Rangers, with a close overtime loss and a shootout victory. Starting goaltender Linus Ullmark’s return has given the Sabres a much-needed boost. Even surprise-backup Dustin Tokarski began to find his rhythm against the Rangers, saving 44 of 47 shots for a .936 save percentage in last Thursday’s game.
In contrast, the Devils have lost their past three games – but the results don’t accurately reflect how they performed. New Jersey held its own against both the Capitals and Bruins, stealing two points from overtime and shootout finishes. If the Devils remain similarly competitive against the Sabres – who, even now, are still much worse than the teams the Devils narrowly lost to – they’ll earn a well-deserved win tonight.
Prediction: Devils win, 3-2
Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Capitals 3 – 1 Islanders
This game is a battle between two of the best teams in the East. The Capitals sit at the top of the division with 54 points, but the Islanders are right on their heels with 52. If the Islanders can pull off a regulation win, they’ll share the first-place position with Washington.
These teams’ last game resulted in a decisive 8-4 victory for the Islanders. Center Mathew Barzal had an impressive five-point night, recording a hat trick and two assists. However, such a high-scoring blowout is not a regular occurrence for the Capitals. They allowed an average of two goals in each of their three previous meetings with the Islanders and haven’t lost consecutive games to one team since mid-February. Add the Capitals’ edge in the head-to-head and it seems likely that Washington will get its revenge.
Prediction: Capitals win, 4-2
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Penguins 5 – 1 Rangers
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers enter this game having lost their last contest. Before their loss to the Bruins, the Penguins had a five-game win streak and a seven-game point streak. The Rangers, on the other hand, have had more mixed results. They eked out a win against the Sabres in overtime last Thursday but lost in a shootout to Buffalo in the subsequent game.
On the Rangers’ end, keep an eye on Artemi Panarin. His goal and two assists helped propel New York to its lone win versus Pittsburgh, and he has at least a point in every Rangers-Penguins game. For the Penguins, Sidney Crosby and Kasperi Kapanen both scored goals in each of the three most recent wins against New York. Unfortunately, Kapanen remains on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, alongside goaltender Tristan Jarry, who has won all three of his games against the Rangers.
Still, even with these injuries, the Penguins have managed to defeat better teams than the Rangers. Given their domination in the head-to-head and momentum from the end of March, Pittsburgh should earn another victory.
Prediction: Penguins win, 4-3
Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Bruins 5 – 1 Flyers
Travis Sanheim’s overtime goal against the Boston Bruins yesterday gave the Philadelphia Flyers their first win against Boston this season. The fifth-place Flyers now trail the fourth-place Bruins by just three points. As such, tonight’s and Sunday’s games will be crucial in deciding which team will earn the East’s final playoff spot.
Goaltending will be an uncertainty for both teams. For the Bruins, it’ll likely be rookie Jeremy Swayman. Swayman put up excellent numbers with Providence in the AHL, but tonight will be his first NHL game. On the Flyers’ end, Carter Hart should be in net, as Brian Elliott started yesterday. Hart hasn’t been good this season, but he looked much more like himself against the Islanders on Saturday. If he plays as confidently today as he did then and the Flyers’ momentum carries over, Philly should be able to steal another win.
Prediction: Flyers win, 3-2
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