Welcome back to NHL Predictions, May 3rd 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 May 3rd, featuring the Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers. Be sure to check out the other two slates of games today.
NHL Predictions: Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers
Dallas Stars vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Stars 2 – 5 Panthers
With five games left in the season, it’s crunch time for the Dallas Stars. They’re behind the Nashville Predators and out of playoff position by just three points, so this game will be crucial in deciding their fate. In contrast, the Florida Panthers, at second in the Central Division, have already clinched a playoff berth.
Entering tonight’s game, the Stars own a three-game losing streak while the Panthers have a three-game winning streak. However, both team’s most recent contests were decided by a single goal. (The Stars fell to the Predators in a close overtime finish, while the Panthers edged out the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4.) But though Florida seems to be having issues with goaltending, Dallas’ scoring struggles are even more apparent. It’s unlikely that the Panthers will be the ones to snap the Stars out of their slump.
Prediction: Panthers win, 3-1
New York Islanders vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Islanders 6 – 0 Sabres
With a two-game sweep against the Rangers, the New York Islanders finally secured their playoff bid. Conversely, the mathematically eliminated Buffalo Sabres enter this contest with a four-game losing streak. That’s the most consecutive losses they’ve had since their 18-game stretch earlier this season.
In recent games, the Islanders have benefitted from excellent goaltending. Semyon Varlamov made 53 stops in the series against the Rangers for two consecutive shutouts. On the other hand, the Sabres have struggled to find consistency in net. In Saturday’s game against the Bruins, goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen went down with an apparent injury. Considering that the Islanders and Sabres are set to play a back-to-back, Buffalo will likely have to bring in its sixth netminder of the season in one of the games. Against this shaken and defeated Sabres team, the Islanders should be able to notch a convincing win.
Prediction: Islanders win, 4-2
Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Bruins 2 – 4 Devils
With three of the East Division’s playoff teams set, the Boston Bruins are still looking to clinch the fourth and final spot. A win against the New Jersey Devils tonight would secure their ticket to the postseason. Both teams come into this contest hot, with each sporting a three-game winning streak. The Devils swept the back end of their series against the Philadelphia Flyers, while the Bruins defeated the Sabres twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins once.
The last game these two teams played was a narrow shootout victory for Boston. But the Devils have seen a surprising amount of success against the Bruins, winning four of their six previous meetings. Despite being in seventh place in the East, New Jersey’s speed presents a constant threat that cannot be taken lightly. Another Devils win will stall the Bruins’ efforts to clinch the division’s last playoff spot.
Prediction: Devils win, 2-1
Washington Capitals vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Capitals 2 – 4 Rangers
With a pair of losses to the Penguins, the Washington Capitals lost their position at the top of the East Division. However, the point they stole in overtime ultimately allowed them to clinch a playoff bid. On the Rangers’ end, making the postseason seems increasingly unlikely. Thanks to two shutout defeats from the Islanders, they are now eight points out of fourth. A loss tonight or a Bruins win will crush their playoff hopes for good.
Surprisingly, much like the Bruins and Devils, the Capitals and Rangers’ head-to-head favours the weaker team. In their last meeting, New York recorded a decisive 5-2 win. This time around, though, both teams’ lineups should look a bit different. For the Rangers, Chris Kreider, Ryan Lindgren, and Brett Howden remained out through Saturday’s bout with the Islanders. But with captain Alex Ovechkin and first-line defenceman John Carlson presumably out for Washington, the Capitals’ chances of winning take a huge hit. Overall, the Rangers’ missing pieces aren’t quite as damaging as the Capitals’. That, combined with Washington’s recent skid, should ensure a win for New York.
Prediction: Rangers win, 5-2
Embed from Getty Images