Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 19th edition! Each day, the Last Word On Hockey team will break down every game and give our NHL predictions for each. This is the first set of games featuring the Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators. Be sure and check out the late NHL Predictions for today, too.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
Head-to-Head: Blackhawks 0-6 Predators
This is a battle of two teams looking for the last playoff spot in the Central Division. Nashville has won all five meetings, but plays Chicago three times in the next five days. The Predators are amazingly still in post-season contention despite a plethora of injuries. Matt Duchene returned to the lineup on Saturday, but Nashville was dominated by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Chicago has won three of its last five, including a 4-0 shutout over the Detroit Red Wings. Patrick Kane got a goal and an assist and Vinnie Hinostroza handed out three assists. Malcolm Subban made 29 saves to get the shutout. Both teams struggle stopping power plays, but Nashville’s power play has been dreadful.
The Predators are coming off two straight losses, but they were to the Hurricanes. Nashville bounces back in a tight one.
Prediction: Predators win 3-2.
Carolina Hurricanes vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 3-3 Lightning
Another key Central Division matchup is between two teams eyeing the Stanley Cup. Carolina has won three of five, including two straight over Nashville. Jani Hakanpaa has been a vital pickup since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks. Both Alex Nedeljkovic and Petr Mrazek have been great in net for the Hurricanes.
The Lightning are coming off a split with the Florida Panthers and the last game was a 5-3 loss. Tampa and Carolina are playing two games in two nights for the last two meetings of the season between the clubs. Nikita Kucherov has been practicing and could be back in the next few days. Steven Stamkos is on long-term injured reserve after another injury.
Keep an eye on the goalie matchups when starters get announced. Tampa has a better shot when Andrei Vasilevskiy starts.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 3-2 in a shootout.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Blue Jackets 1-5 Panthers
It’s the first of two back-to-back games to close out the season series. The Panthers are in a three-horse race for the Central top seed with the Hurricanes and Lightning. Florida has lost three of its last five, but is coming off a win over Tampa Bay.
Columbus is playing out the string and has faded out of contention. The Blue Jackets have lost five straight and only won once in April. Columbus only scored twice in a pair of games against the Dallas Stars.
Florida’s power play has been struggling but has a chance to get better against the 19th-best penalty kill.
Prediction: Panthers win 4-1.
Detroit Red Wings vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Red Wings 1-3 Stars
It’s the first of four games in six days between the two foes. Detroit does have wins in three of its last five games, but got blanked by Chicago in the last game. The team has struggled, but there are signs of the young group putting together.
Dallas does have to get moving up the standings in order to catch Nashville for the last playoff spot. The Stars did sweep the Blue Jackets in the last pair of games and wins in three of their last five.
Anton Khudobin has gotten better in the last few games and will be vital in keying the Stars charge of the standings.
Prediction: Stars win 3-1.