Happy Easter to all! There is no better way to wind down after a day of festivities than by kicking back and watching some epic games of hockey. As always, we have spent the morning researching the fixtures in depth to bring you the very best NHL picks.
Detroit Red Wings @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 12.00 PM EDT
The Red Wings and Lightning go back to back today for the second match of their 2 game series in Tampa. The two did battle yesterday in a very narrow affair, with the Lightning managing to edge out the Red Wings 2-1 thanks to a strong showing in the first term.
It was their 5th meeting this season, and after the Red Wings upset them in the previous game the Lightning were playing for revenge.
Back to back goals from Ross Colton and Brayden Point in the first term set the Lightning up nicely, and Andrei Vasilevskiy kept the Red Wings at bay up until the final term, conceding just 1 of 26 shots faced.
It was a solid effort from the last place Red Wings who have had a tough run of fixtures lately, having to play the divisions two strongest teams in back to back series’.
A good final push, but not enough.
Rematch tomorrow at noon. pic.twitter.com/mMlaeuc8PN
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 3, 2021
It looked like they might complete the comeback after Adam Erne scored just 4 minutes into the final period, but they couldn’t follow it up as they suffered their 4th defeat to the Lightning from 5 games this season.
It was a must win for Tampa with the molten hot Florida Panthers nibbling at their heels on the table, a defeat yesterday would have seen them slip to 2nd place.
Washington Capitals @ New Jersey Devils – 3.00 PM EDT
After their tense overtime finish in the last game, the Devils and the Capitals go again today for their final match of the regular season, and now that the Caps have won 7-0, the Devils will be desperate to claim this win.
It was quite surprising to see their last match finish with just 2 goals in regulation time, the Capitals brought it to the Devils, outshooting them nearly 2 to 1, yet Mackenzie Blackwood could only be bested once in the net, making 38 saves from 40 attempts.
Both regulation goals came during the second term during a 4 minute window, John Carlson opened the scoring for the Caps before Michael McLeod pulled one back for the Devils.
Once in overtime, it took an unlikely, yet not entirely unfamiliar hero in the form of defenseman, Dmitry Orlov, to win the game for the Caps.
It was the Russian’s 5th goal, and his 2nd game winning goal of the season. With the win, the Capitals retain their place atop the East Division, equal on points with the Islanders, but boasting the best record over the last 10 games (7-3-0).
The Devils have ran fairly well compared to the division overall, winning 5 of their last 10 games, but they have remained very competitive in most of their defeats, losing 5 of their last 7 by just 1 goal.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Florida Panthers – 5.00 PM EDT
The Panthers put the hurt on the Blue Jackets yesterday, and the two are set to run it up again today for the final game of their 2 match series.
It was a characteristically solid performance from the Panthers over the struggling Blue Jackets, picking up a league leading 5th straight victory in the process.
Of the Panthers 5 recent wins, 3 of the games have been won by a margin of 3 or more goals, the other 2 have been done so in overtime, no team in the league has more overtime wins than the Panthers (6).
It was an unfamiliar scoreboard for the Panthers, with none of the teams top goal getters registering a score, Alex Wennberg did most of the honours himself by scoring a hat trick, the first of his 5 year career in the NHL.
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) April 4, 2021
The scoreboard did not at all flatter the Blue Jackets’ performance, as they registered a whopping 46 shots for the game, 16 shots more than their average for the rest of the season, with only Oliver Bjorkstrand and Seth Werenski finding the back of the net.
Much of the Panthers’ win must be credited to the heroics of Sergei Bobrovsky, stopping a season high 44 of the 46 shots the Blue Jackets sent his way.
Dallas Stars @ Carolina Hurricanes – 7.00 PM EDT
The Stars and the Hurricanes also go back to back today following their game yesterday in which the Stars pulled off the upset win away in Carolina.
Having previously not beaten them from 4 attempts this season, the 3-2 victory was a huge one for the Stars against a side who have played so strong at home.
It didn’t come easy for the Stars though, facing an onslaught of attack from the Canes, luckily Jake Oettinger was there in net to make a career high 41 saves to keep his side in it as they mounted a comeback.
Making 25 shots of their own, the Stars were clinical, Jamie Benn capitalised on the powerplay in the second to tie the score up before Tanner Kero buried what would become the winner at the start of the third.
With the victory, the Stars pick up consecutive wins for the first time since all the way back in January. The Canes remain in 3rd place on the Central Division table, with a record over the last 10 of 5-3-2, the weakest of the divisions top 4 teams, however they are still comfortably 10 points above the 4th place Predators.
Arizona Coyotes @ Anaheim Ducks – 9.00 PM EDT
The Ducks will be hoping to rewrite the wrongs of Friday’s game, as they have another crack at the Coyotes following their 4-2 defeat last time out.
It was the Ducks’ 7th loss from their last 10 games played, and their 5th to the Coyotes from 7 games this season. It was a fairly tight game up until the final term with the two teams trading goals in the first and second term, entering the third with the score all tied up 2-2.
The Coyotes prevailed though thanks to a Phil Kessel goal at the midway point, followed by a goal from Nick Schmaltz 4 minutes later to give the Coyotes a 2 goal cushion.
We liked that one. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/J7fv9hPhGU
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) April 3, 2021
Defenseman Jordan Gross picked up a hat trick of assists to guide the Coyotes to victory, it was just his 6th game in the NHL, and his second, third and fourth all time point.
It is a win of huge importance to the Coyotes as they move into a playoff position for the first time since the seasons start, it is the result of some good results as well as the bad performance of the Blues.
The Coyotes have now played 2 games of their massive 8 game road trip, with some tough fixtures ahead, a win here is very important.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.