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 Florida Panthers.
NHL Predictions Including Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
New York Islanders vs Philadelphia Flyers
Head-to-Head: Islanders 1-1 Flyers
To kickstart our NHL predictions for the night, the New York Islanders pay a visit to the Philadelphia Flyers as newly acquired Bo Horvat will make his highly anticipated debut for the Islanders. This will be the third meeting between the two Metropolitan Division clubs, as they split the previous contests. The Islanders made headlines yesterday by announcing that they have signed Horvat to an eight-year contract extension worth $8.5M/AAV. The former Canucks captain has yet to play for his new team but will bring a heavier punch to the Islanders’ offensive side of the game. The Flyers shut out the Winnipeg Jets 4-0 in their final game before the All-Star break. Carter Hart made 40 saves in the outing and is expected to get the start tonight. Travis Konecny leads Flyers skaters with 24 goals and 25 assists for 49 points in 45 games. Expect the Islanders to have a significant performance tonight in Horvat’s debut as they begin their push to return to the postseason.
Prediction: Islanders win 4-2
Calgary Flames vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Flames 0-0 Rangers
Tonight marks the season’s first meeting between the Calgary Flames and the New York Rangers. The Rangers play host to the Flames, looking to build on their 13-9-4 record on home ice. The Blueshirts posted a 6-2-2 record in their ten games leading up to the All-Star break and sit in third place in the tightly contested Metro division. The Flames won both meetings against the Rangers last season, and it wasn’t even close, as they outscored them 11-1 over the two games played. Calgary picked up a crucial 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken in their last game before the break. Jacob Markstrom has lost his previous four starts, with his last win against the Islanders on January 6. Expect the Rangers to emerge victorious in this one, led by star performances from their three All-Stars, Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox and Igor Shesterkin.
Prediction: Rangers win 5-3
Vancouver Canucks vs New Jersey Devils
Head-to-Head: Canucks 0-1 Devils
The Vancouver Canucks play their first game since dealing their captain, Bo Horvat, to the Islanders. The Canucks visit the New Jersey Devils in the second and final meeting of the season between the two. New Jersey took the first matchup by a score of 5-2. The Canucks have a 10-13-2 record on the road, while the Devils are 13-10-2 on home ice. Spencer Martin and Vitek Vanecek are expected to be the starting goaltenders tonight. The Devils went on a tear before the break, going 8-1-1 in their last ten. Jack Hughes leads the Devils with 33 goals and 31 assists for 64 points in 49 games. Elias Pettersson is the Canucks offensive catalyst, leading them with 21 goals and 37 assists for 58 points in 47 games. Vancouver is 3-7-0 over their last ten, and don’t expect them to pick up the win tonight.
Prediction: Devils win 6-2
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Florida Panthers
Head-to-Head: Lightning 2-0 Panthers
The Battle of Florida resumes tonight as the Tampa Bay Lightning visit their cross-state rival, Florida Panthers. The Lightning picked up a 4-1 win on a December 10 meeting between the two. Brayden Point scored early in the third period breaking a tie game, and the Lightning never looked back at two more unanswered goals en route to the victory. Point also came up big in the first meeting on October 22 as he scored two goals, including the game-winner leading the Lightning to a 3-2 overtime win.
The Panthers picked up a big comeback overtime win over the Atlantic-leading Boston Bruins before the break. However, the Lightning look to be dialling in their game as the season progresses. They were 8-2-0 in their last ten games before the All-Star break. Nikita Kucherov has been lights out as usual, scoring 19 goals and adding 53 assists for a team-leading 72 points. Matthew Tkachuk leads the Panthers with 25 goals and 41 assists for 66 points in 49 games. The Panthers are currently three points out of the final wild-card position making every game vital to their playoff hopes. Expect a tightly contested playoff-type battle between the two rival clubs tonight.
Prediction: Lightning win 4-3
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