Welcome back to another day of NHL Predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey takes a look at the games that are happening and gives our predictions for each one, breaking down head-to-head and other factors that may play in. We also have a featured game of the day, which is considered must-watch TV. Today’s featured game is the Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars.
NHL Predictions with Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars
Montreal Canadiens vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 0 – 1 Sabres
Let’s get this one out of the way first. Unless you are a fan of either team, this game probably isn’t at the top of your viewing list tonight. Both teams come into this one with just two wins in their past 10 games.
The Montreal Canadiens have struggled to put any sort of consistent effort together all season long. Look no further than their past two games. They put up six goals against the Predators last Saturday, chasing Juuse Saros from the net in the process. Then, they followed it up with a 6-3 loss to the Capitals. Mired in this awful start to the season is Jeff Petry, who has only managed to put up two assists in 21 games this season – a far cry from the 42 points in 55 games he had last season. On the bright side, Cole Caufield scored his first goal of the season on Wednesday in his third game since being called up from the Laval Rocket of the AHL. The Canadiens can only hope that it’s the start of something special for the 20-year-old rookie.
The Buffalo Sabres situation isn’t as bad, given the expectations coming into the season. Despite starting the season with three straight wins, including one over these Habs, the Sabres have struggled mightily as of late. Most of the blame belongs between the pipes. Over their recent four-game losing streak, the tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Aaron Dell has allowed 22 goals and have a combined seven appearances. Their offence, however, has been respectable. Buffalo has eight players with 10 or more points this season.
Prediction: Sabres win 4-3 in overtime.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Penguins 0 – 0 Islanders
This is the first meeting of the season between the Penguins and Islanders. The last time these two sides faced each other was in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Islanders won 5-3 and eliminated the Penguins in six games.
Pittsburgh comes into this one on a high after winning their last four games. They’re getting contributions from their top players and Tristan Jarry in the net. Over this streak, Jarry has only allowed two goals, stopping 116 of 118 shots while posting two shutouts. Offensively, they’ve scored 12 goals, three of which belong to Jake Guentzel. The Pens are firing on all cylinders right now and Sidney Crosby has yet to find his form with only two points in seven games this season. That will change tonight. If the last game is any indication, he’s ready to light up the scoresheet. Crosby has 122 points in 75 career games against the Isles.
The Islanders returned home from a 13-game road trip to start the season with a 5-6-2 record. It’s not great, but it’s respectable given the circumstances. Unfortunately, their long-awaited return home to the new UBS Arena hasn’t quite gone as planned. Due to injury and Covid, they’re currently missing Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, Zdeno Chara, Adam Pelech, Andy Greene, Kieffer Bellows, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. The massive blow to their lineup has affected the product on the ice. The Islanders are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak – a span in which they’ve only scored seven goals. Maybe a game against their rivals can get them back on track… or maybe not.
Prediction: Penguins Win 5-2
Colorado Avalanche vs Dallas Stars
Head-to-Head: Avalanche 0 – 0 Stars
No Nathan MacKinnon? No problem. The Colorado Avalanche are the scariest team in the league to play right now. They’ve won their last six games, outscoring their opponents 36-15 over that span. At the centre of it all has been Nazem Kadri, who has factored in on an incredible 15 of those goals. He currently leads the Avalanche with 25 points and ranks fourth in league scoring. On the back end, Cale Makar has been on a tear of his own. He has 10 points over that stretch and comes into this one on a four-game goal-scoring streak. Six of his eight goals this season have come in the last four games. The Avs recent surge has catapulted them to first in the National Hockey League in goals per game with 4.06. They look to stay white-hot as they roll into Texas.
The Dallas Stars have quietly been playing much better hockey themselves. That’s primarily due to the play of both Roope Hintz and Jake Oettinger. Hintz has found his game after a terrible start to the season. He has six goals and three assists in his last seven games. He’s quickly climbed to second place in the team scoring behind Miro Heiskanen, who has 14.
Jake Oettinger was called up after Holtby was held out with a lower-body injury. Thanks to inconsistent play from Anton Khudobin, he’s picked up back-to-back starts for the Stars and won them both, improving his record to 3-0-0 on the year. With Dallas set to play Arizona tomorrow night, Oettinger will most likely get the start against the tougher opponent in Colorado, leaving Khudobin to try to get back on track against the Coyotes.
Prediction: Avalanche win 3-1
Toronto Maple Leafs vs San Jose Sharks
Head-to-Head: Maple Leafs 0 – 1 Sharks
The Maple Leafs look to exact revenge after the Sharks beat them on October 22nd in Toronto by a score of 5-3. This will be the second and final meeting between these two teams.
Toronto enters the day in the four-way tie for second place in the league with 29 points, trailing only the Florida Panthers who sit in first with 31. Unlike the teams around them, the Maple Leafs haven’t scored a lot. They rank 22nd in goals per game while sporting a shooting percentage of eight, indicating that the tide will turn. That seems to have already begun as they scored six goals against Jonathan Quick and the Kings on the first game of their California road swing. Still, with no Maple Leafs player above a point-per-game at this point, it’s obvious that the best player so far has been Jack Campbell. Campbell ranks first among goalies in goals-against average (1.68) and save percentage (.943) of whom have played more than five games this season. Tonight though, the Maple Leafs will give Joseph Woll the start as a reward after his 20-save shutout of the Islanders last Sunday.
Like the Leafs, the Sharks come into this one on a two-game winning streak. Leading the way last game and all season long has been Timo Meier. Meier had three points in a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, improving his season total to 18 points in 14 games. Rookie Jonathan Dahlen is tied for second in goals with seven. He’s a possibility to return tonight after missing the last two with an upper-body injury.
The Sharks will scratch and claw to keep this game close, but not even 41 saves from former Maple Leafs netminder James Reimer will be able to get the two points.
Prediction: Toronto Wins 4-3 in overtime.
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