Welcome back to NHL Predictions, April 20th 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 20th, featuring the Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins. Be sure to check out the other slates of games today.
NHL Predictions: Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – 3 Bruins
Although the Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins haven’t played often this season, the Bruins have been dominant in their few meetings. Entering tonight’s contest, the Bruins sport a four-game winning streak and need to extend that to widen the gap between themselves and the rising Rangers. The Sabres, while still not particularly threatening, did pull off an upset win against the Penguins on Sunday.
For Buffalo, starting goaltender Linus Ullmark remains out with a lower-body injury, depleting their already-slim depth in net. Dustin Tokarski – who began the season as the Sabres’ fourth netminder – held his own against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. But the Bruins’ high-powered offence presents a greater challenge. The “Perfection Line” is firing on all cylinders and new acquisition Taylor Hall has improved Boston’s scoring depth, recording two goals in his first three games with the Bruins.
The Sabres do have the potential for upset wins. Even in their last game against the Bruins, they stayed with Boston all through regulation. But at this point, the Bruins are looking strong and have massive momentum to boot. Tonight’s game probably won’t be a blowout, but Boston should notch a convincing win.
Prediction: Bruins win, 4-2
New Jersey Devils vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Devils 2 – 3 Penguins
Tonight’s game is the first of three consecutive meetings between the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Devils are fresh off four straight losses to the Rangers and haven’t won in six games. And while the Pittsburgh Penguins’ luck has not been quite so bad, they were upset by the division-worst Sabres in the second of two close contests.
On the Devils’ end, winger Yegor Sharangovich has been particularly effective, recording a goal and two assists in the team’s last two games. The Penguins have scored up and down the lineup, with many different players putting up points. Although neither team is playing at its best right now, the Penguins are generally a more reliable team than the Devils, who are still working on developing their young rebuild group. It’ll be a close game, but expect a Pittsburgh win tonight.
Prediction: Penguins win, 3-2
New York Rangers vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Rangers 2 – 3 Islanders
Despite having won against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, the New York Islanders have looked shaky as of late. They dropped from second to third in the East, behind the Penguins, just last week. In contrast, the New York Rangers come into this game hot after a four-game sweep of the Devils.
Although the Islanders aren’t known for offence, lately their scoring struggles have seemed worse than usual. All of the Islanders’ players combined have fewer points in their last three games than the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin have in theirs. The Islanders eked out an overtime win in these teams’ last meeting, but unless they can find a more immediate fix for their lack of offensive production, it’ll be the Rangers coming away with the win this time.
Prediction: Rangers win, 3-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 3 – 4 Lightning
This game is the last time the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning will face each other during the regular season. Now trailing Carolina by a single point, the Lightning have a chance to overtake the Hurricanes with a regulation win tonight.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was in net for Tampa Bay in the first game of the back-to-back, so it stands to reason that Curtis McIlhenny will take the start today. Unfortunately, McIlhenny has been a liability this season, with a .862 save percentage and 3.48 goals-against average. That’ll be especially problematic against Hurricanes, who are dangerous up and down the lineup. In last night’s game, first-line winger Andrei Svechnikov scored – and so did second-pairing defenceman Brady Skjei. Last night’s game was close even with Vasilevsky backstopping the Lightning; the Hurricanes should be able to capitalize on Tampa’s lack of goaltending depth to take this contest.
Prediction: Hurricanes win, 3-2
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