NHL Predictions: December 30th Featuring Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
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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 Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers.

NHL Predictions: Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers

Nashville Predators vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Head-to-Head: Predators 1 – Blue Jackets 0

This is the second meeting of the season between the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Predators beat the Blue Jackets by a score of 6-0, but that game was in Nashville. This contest will take place in Columbus and Nashville will be playing the second of back-to-back games. Columbus had their first game back postponed and will be the fresher team entering this one. Nashville is playing for a lot in this game as they are looking to get into first place and pass the Minnesota Wild. The Predators are playing really well with Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen picking up the offence, while Roman Josi anchors the defence.

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Prediction: Predators Win 4-3 

Montreal Canadiens vs Carolina Hurricanes 

Head-to-Head: Canadiens 0 – Hurricanes 1

This is the second meeting of the season between the Hurricanes and Canadiens. The first meeting took place in Montreal where it was Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s homecoming. It was a revenge of sorts for Kotkaniemi as he scored against his former team. The Hurricanes should roll in this one as they are the better team. Though it is hard to predict since they haven’t played in over a week. Montreal still looks awful even though they lost to Tampa Bay on Tuesday in overtime by a score of 5-4. This game will be close for sure, but the Canadiens will fall short. Defensively, the Hurricanes are better. Not only that the Hurricanes have the better goaltenders and offence. Plus this one is in Carolina, the Hurricanes always play well in front of their home crowd.

Prediction: Carolina Wins 4-1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers

Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – Panthers 1

The battle of Florida is always an interesting game and this is why it is our featured game of the night. The two teams split the first two meetings of the season. If the first two games of the season were something, the fans will be treated to another great game. This rivalry got taken to the next level in the playoffs last season and these games have implications in the standings. The Lightning have been on a roll winning four straight games. Tampa Bay was able to survive a stretch without having both Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point in the lineup. Now Point is back, and the Lightning are almost whole. Steven Stamkos carried the load offensively and Jon Cooper has established a new third line. Having Andrei Vasilevskiy in between the pipes does not hurt.

The Panthers on the other hand ended their three-game losing streak heading into this contest. They defeated the Rangers on Wednesday night winning their 15 game on home ice. Florida currently sits in third place in the Atlantic Division. If the Panthers can get another victory over the Lightning it will go a long way in securing the first seed in the Atlantic. Like with Tampa Bay, the Panthers are loaded with Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, and Anthony Duclair. However, the Panthers will be in tough playing the Lightning in the second half of a back-to-back.

Prediction: Lightning Win 3-2 

Buffalo Sabres vs New York Islanders

Head-to-Head: Sabres 0 – Islanders  0

This is the first meeting of the season between the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres are coming off a 4-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night. Meanwhile, the Islanders have been off for over a week due to COVID-19 protocols. The Islanders were supposed to come back against Detroit, but that did not happen. The Islanders are continuing to deal with Brock Nelson being added to the list. It will be interesting to see how the Islanders play considering they have not played in a while. The Islanders were turning things around before the pause, let’s see if they can carry that momentum past the break.

Prediction: Islanders Win 3-1 

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