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 Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers.
NHL Predictions With Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers
Florida Panthers vs Washington Capitals
Series: Panthers 2 – 2 Capitals
The Florida Panthers avoided a disastrous scenario last game of falling behind 3-1 in the series. But the Panthers found what every successful playoff team possesses, the ability to come from behind and steal a game. Carter Verhaeghe was the hero, scoring two goals including the overtime winner. Hockey is a mental game and the Florida Panthers are showing they’ve matured in that area and won’t be easy to put away.
The Capitals on the other hand are kicking themselves for wasting an opportunity to go up 3-1 and put the pressure on the President’s Trophy winners. The Caps came into this series as heavy underdogs but haven’t always looked the sort. The Capitals have come out and taken advantage of the one area of Florida’s game that was weak. Keeping the puck out of the net.
Florida had bailed themselves out night after night with their high octane offence, but goals can be hard to come across in the playoffs. Well, maybe not this year. The surge in regular-season goal-scoring seems to have transferred over to the playoffs.
But with the Panthers back at home, where they have been dominant all year, they look poised to grab hold of this series and put it away.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-2
Dallas Stars vs Calgary Flames
Series: Stars 2 – 2 Flames
The Flames finally found their scoring touch after scoring just three goals in the first three games. The Flames, who boast three 40-goal scorers on their roster, were stymied by the stout defensive play of the Stars and rookie goalie Jake Oettinger.
But the Flames flipped the script and settled into their game for game four. They peppered the Stars with 54 shots on goal, taking the lead midway through the second, and never looked back.
Calgary has been waiting for their stars to get going and a multi-point night by Johnny Gaudreau may be just what was needed to get the confidence going and be the turning point of this series.
The Stars on the other hand are looking to get back to that stout defence that propelled them to a short-lived series lead. A win in the Saddledome will not come easy but if they can steal home-ice advantage tonight, all the pressure goes on Calgary. And that’s right where an underdog like the Stars wants their opponent.
Joe Pavelski has been the ageless wonder for the Stars who leads his team with three goals and four points. The 16-year veteran is still seeking his first Stanley Cup and will be highly motivated to press his team forward to give themselves a chance to close out this series at home.
Prediction: Flames win 3-2 OT
New York Rangers vs Pittsburgh Penguins
Series: Rangers 1 – 3 Penguins
The likely Vezina trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin, sure has looked like a shell of his former self. The Pittsburgh Penguins have chased the Russian phenom from his crease in back-to-back games. What was predicted to be a somewhat low-scoring series has been anything but as the Sidney Crosby led Penguins have scored at will this series.
The Pens were a dark horse to challenge for the Cup at the start of the playoffs and as they sit up in the series, 3-1, they look every bit like a Cup favourite. The core of the Penguins in Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are no pushovers. And they are flexing their playoff-experienced muscles all over the Rangers. Despite the Rangers heading home for this one, the Penguins have too much experience to let an opportunity to close out a series early get away from them. Normally a close-out game is hard but the Pens love making it look easy.
If the Rangers are to have any success in getting back into this series, it obviously begins in the crease. Shesterkin is the confirmed starter tonight and he needs to be better. This is the worst stretch of his young career, as Shesterkin has never been pulled two games in a row. The Rangers will need a quick start in this one. Getting on the board early and giving their star goalie some breathing room will go a long way. The Rangers will be leaning on their offensive stars to set the pace early. Artemi Panarin has five points in the series thus far and they will need another productive night from him tonight.
Prediction: Penguins win 3-2