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 Carolina Hurricanes vs Pittsburgh Penguins.
NHL Predictions With Carolina Hurricanes vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Leafs 1 – 1 Sabres
Fresh off an overtime loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Toronto Maple Leafs have not had an easy road lately. They’re now third in the Atlantic Division, leading the Boston Bruins by an increasingly-narrowing margin. The Buffalo Sabres have also been struggling to find consistency. However, in a recent clash with the Maple Leafs, the Sabres came out on top. Toronto’s Jack Campbell‘s recent slump has contributed greatly to the team’s problem; he has not recorded a save percentage over .870 since mid-February. Conversely, Craig Anderson was very good for the Sabres on Thursday, saving 30 of 31 shots for a .968 save percentage. The way the Maple Leafs are headed right now, Buffalo might actually get the upset win.
Prediction: Sabres win, 5-3
Carolina Hurricanes vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 2 – 0 Penguins
The Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins are first and second, respectively, in the Metropolitan Division. Carolina has a strong four-game win streak going, while Pittsburgh bounced back from a loss to the Florida Panthers with a victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Hurricanes have swept the season series thus far. In the teams’ last meeting, though, the Penguins forced overtime to gain a standings point.
For Pittsburgh, Tristan Jarry has been the standout, putting together a 40-save performance against Vegas. Three of his last four starts were wins, and he recorded a .941 save percentage through that stretch. Bryan Rust has also been excellent lately. He recorded a goal and an assist in each of his most recent two games; he has seven points, in total, though his last five.
On Carolina’s end, goaltending has also been a strength. Backup Antti Raanta posted a 30-game shutout against the Colorado Avalanche, and starter Frederik Andersen blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets a couple weeks ago. Additionally, Steven Lorentz and Jordan Martinook each logged a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday.
Overall, both the Penguins and Hurricanes are very strong teams. Carolina will likely be fatigued, as this afternoon’s game will be the latter half of a back-to-back. Still, the Hurricanes have the advantage in momentum and have beaten the Penguins twice before – it’ll happen a third time today.
Prediction: Hurricanes win, 3-2
Nashville Predators vs Minnesota Wild
Head-to-Head: Predators 1 – 0 Wild
The Nashville Predators currently sit just two points behind the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division standings. A win would close that gap and give the Predators the opportunity to pass the Wild in future games. Filip Forsberg has six points for Nashville – two goals and four assists – through his last five games. Matt Duchene has been even more dangerous, with 11 points in that same stretch. On Minnesota’s end, Kevin Fiala has a six-game point streak, through which he’s scored three goals and six assists. Though the Wild won’t be easily defeated, the Predators should add another win to their record today.
Prediction: Predators win, 4-3
Montreal Canadiens vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Canadiens 1 – 0 Flyers
The last time the Montreal Canadiens met the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal came away with a narrow shootout victory. This time around, the Flyers are in worse shape in the standings, but have improved their process somewhat. Carter Hart put together a 47-save performance – his career high – to steal Philadelphia a win against the Golden Knights. For Montreal, Artturi Lehkonen and Rem Pitlick recorded three points each against the Vancouver Canucks. Though the Canadiens got the best of the Flyers once, Philadelphia shouldn’t let them pull it off again.
Prediction: Flyers win, 3-1
Vegas Golden Knights vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Golden Knights 1 – 0 Blue Jackets
While the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets in their one previous meeting this season, the Golden Knights now find themselves holding a three-game losing streak. By contrast, the Blue Jackets are fresh off a shootout win over the Wild. Yegor Chinakhov was crucial to that victory, scoring a goal and the shoot-out winning tally. For Vegas, Jonathan Marchessault has six points through his last five games. Though the Golden Knights’ recent record doesn’t look great, the fact is that they outshot their opponents and were merely stopped by stellar goaltending. They’re bound to break through at some point; it may well happen tonight.
Prediction: Golden Knights win, 4-2