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 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames.
Anaheim Ducks vs Buffalo Sabres
Head-to-Head: Ducks 0 – 0 Sabres
This will be the first of two meetings between these clubs. The Anaheim Ducks will be playing their fourth game on the road. A 5-3 win on Thursday against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a five-game losing streak for the Ducks. They trailed 3-0 after the first in that game, giving them a very rare victory. The Ducks have only won back-to-back games three times this season and only once on the road.
The Buffalo Sabres come into this meeting also struggling as of late. They have dropped five of their last seven, one in overtime. Leading scorer Tage Thompson has been very quiet as well during that seven-game span. He has just one goal and three assists in the last seven with no power-play points. Look for that to change, however, as the Sabres fifth-ranked power play will be against the Ducks’ 30th-ranked penalty kill.
The Sabres need this victory as they attempt to climb back into playoff contention. They are four points out of the wild card in the East and losing ground fast. You have to beat the teams you are supposed to beat, and they get it done.
Prediction: Sabres win 5-3
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Calgary Flames
Head-to-Head: Lightning 1 – 0 Flames
The second and final meeting between these two teams is an NHL predictions must-watch. The Tampa Bay Lightning are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers that snapped a five-game winning streak. This will be their last game of a five-game road trip and are eager to get home. It has been a long stretch of travel for the Lightning who will be playing their 12th road contest in their last 17 games overall. These are the type of games that a team “looks beyond” before heading home.
The Calgary Flames have lost two straight games while only scoring once in each contest. Scoring has been an issue for the Flames, seeing last year’s sixth-ranked offence drop to 23rd in 2022-23. It will not be much easier as they face presumed starter Andrei Vasilevskiy. He has been solid this season, posting a 2.5 GAA and .917 SV%. He was also remarkable against Calgary earlier this season, stopping 39 of 40 for a 4-1 victory.
Here is a fun fact: every time this season the Lightning have had a winning streak snapped by a road loss, they lost their next road game. They are also eager to get home. If Calgary gets anywhere near 40 shots again, this could be a long day for the Lightning.
Prediction: Flames win 4-2
Minnesota Wild vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Wild 0 – 0 Panthers
This is the first of two games between these teams. The Minnesota Wild are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that snapped a three-game winning streak. The bigger story was the healthy scratch of blue line staple Matt Dumba. All indications currently are that he will also sit this game out. It is a curious decision by the coaching staff considering the Wild are fighting to stay in the top three of the Central Division. Losing that game in dominating fashion doesn’t help either. Minnesota is going to need solid goaltending if they want to win today’s matchup.
The Florida Panthers meanwhile are in a bit of a goalie crisis. Sergei Bobrovsky left Thursday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens just two minutes in with a lower-body injury. There is no update as of yet, however, a second goalie has been called from their AHL affiliate. The first was called up to backup in place of Spencer Knight who has also been out. That goalie, Alex Lyon, replaced Bobrovsky and backstopped the Panthers to a 6-2 victory. He looks to be the starter for this game, getting his first NHL start of the season.
Florida can score. A lot. Minnesota plays solid defence but without Dumba they allowed five goals. Look for a high-scoring game here.
Prediction: Panthers win 5-4.