There is less than a month of regular season games to play in this already epic year of NHL! With 10 mouth watering games on the agenda today it was hard to narrow it down to just 5! Alas, we picked our 5 favourites from the bunch, have a read below for all of our NHL picks.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Florida Panthers – 7.00 PM EDT
Carolina got back to winning ways on Tuesday with their 4-1 victory over the Lightning, getting some revenge for their overtime defeat to them the day before.
The Canes were the second best team in the first game, attempting 9 less shots for the game, and trailed a lead for half of the game, but they flipped the script on Tuesday’s game, taking 9 more shots than the Lightning, and scoring 3 goals before their opponent could register their only goal.
Nino Niederreiter was electric for the Canes, opening the scoring 8 minutes into the second term before assisting in the second goal less than 30 seconds later to give his side a 2 goal cushion.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) April 21, 2021
After a day of rest the Canes now face the other Florida based side, the Panthers, who they lead 5-1 on the head to head this season.
The Panthers are coming into this one hot, having beaten the Lightning 5-3 away from home before returning to their home ground to sweep the Blue Jackets over 2 games.
After winning the first match against the Blue Jackets 4-2, the Panthers came out stronger in the second fixture, scoring 2 goals in the opening 8 minutes, and by the end of the second term, had basically put the game to bed at 5-1.
Anthony Duclair, who picked up 2 assists in the first game, added 3 more to his total on Tuesday, bringing his point streak to 5 games (2 goals and 6 assists).
Duclair wasn’t the only player to notch 3 points, as Jonathan Huberdeau scored 1, and assisted 2 more. Huberdeau leads the Panthers for both assists and total points, with 33 and 49 respectively.
Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Rangers – 7.00 PM EDT
The Flyers’ suffering continued on Sunday with another weak performance in the form of a 1-0 shutout defeat on home soil to the Islanders.
It was their 4th loss in 5 games, and with a last 10 record of 3-4-3, the Flyers are the second worst performing team in the East. Not long ago they were sitting in a playoff position, now finding themselves 11 points off.
They were plagued by the same problems against the Islanders that have held them down all April, struggling to convert their chances despite averaging 30 shots on target this season.
The Flyers haven’t scored more than 3 goals since the end of March, averaging just 2.2 goals per game over their 11 games in April, while conceding just shy of 4 goals (3.9 on average).
After boosting their confidence with 4 straight victories against the struggling Devils, the Rangers were humbled by Islanders on Tuesday, losing 6-1.
Taking just 2 shots less than their opponents, the Rangers were not clinical in front of goal, kept to just 1 goal for just the second time this month, both instances coming against the Islanders.
The generally solid, Igor Shestkerin, had a night to forget in between the sticks for the Rangers, saving just 22 of 28 attempts for a season worst save percentage of 78.6%.
Having played 5 of their last 7 games on the road, the Rangers return to New York for a favourable 5 game homestand, they have won 6 of their last 7 games played at Madison Square Garden.
Washington Capitals @ New York Islanders – 7.00 PM EDT
The Caps and the Islanders begin a 3 game series today, and with the two sides sitting on 62 points the next 3 games will determine who claims the top spot in the East.
Washington are coming into this game following their worst defeat in weeks at the hands of the Bruins in Boston, losing 6-3, allowing the Islanders to draw level with them on points.
After going down 2-0 in the opening 15 minutes, the Caps bounced back with 3 unanswered goals, 2 of which came from power plays, no small feat against the NHL’s best penalty killing side.
However, they lapsed defensively in the second half of the game, making some costly mistakes and conceding 4 goals to blow the scoreline out to 6-3.
“We know the next couple games are going to be [intense]. We need to be ready, we need to be prepared and it’s always exciting to play in those kind of games.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 21, 2021
The Islanders backed up their nervy 1-0 overtime win against the Flyers with an emphatic 6-1 win over their cross town rivals on Tuesday.
Anthony Beauvillier played one of his best games, the young winger scored a power play goal before assisting in 3 more, just the second 4 point haul of his career.
Josh Bailey notched a brace on top of an assist, while Semyon Varlamov was just a goal away from recording his 5th shutout of the season, allowing just 1 goal from 26 Rangers’ shots to keep the Islanders comfortably ahead.
Their homestand continues with 2 games against the Caps who have had the better of the Islanders so far this season, leading the head to head record 3-2, however, they are yet to beat the Islanders in New York.
New Jersey Devils @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 7.00 PM EDT
The Devils get another crack at the Penguins today following their near legendary last term comeback on Tuesday.
After conceding 6 goals without reply in the first two terms, the game was all but over thanks to another miserable showing from the Devils. However, they came out hungry in the third, scoring a season high 6 goals in one period to the Penguins’ 1, with the last coming with just 40 seconds to play, and despite sending the bodies forward, they couldn’t find the equaliser.
The Devils have been guilty of taking too long to find their feet all season, often blowing the score out early before playing a solid term, but by that point the damage is often already done.
The defeat marks the 7th straight for the Devils, who are now just 3 points from the bottom of the table, and have won just 1 of their last 12 games.
For the Penguins, the win sees them move to just 1 point from the 1st place, Washington Capitals, and with 2 more home games to play against the Devils, they have to like their chances at picking up more points.
Despite scoring the second most goals in the entire league (159), the Penguins’ 7 goals was a season high for the Pittsburgh side.
With 7 goals scored, there were surprisingly 7 different scorers, amongst them was the skipper, Sidney Crosby, who teed up Bryan Rust for their second goal, and temporarily put Penguins fans’ hearts at ease with his third period goal to restore their 3 goal cushion.
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Tampa Bay Lightning – 7.00 PM EDT
The struggling Blue Jackets were hit with another painful defeat on Tuesday, once again losing to the Panthers to wrap up their 2 game series 9-3 on aggregate score.
Losing 4-2 in the first game, the Jackets kept the game quite even statistically, and did so again in the most recent, even attempting more shots than the Panthers.
Unfortunately they lacked the finishing touch that their opponents had, converting just once from 34 attempts on goal, finding themselves down 5-1 before the final period.
After losing 7 consecutive games, the Blue Jackets’ prospects don’t look too great with 2 games against the third place Lightning coming up, however, the two sides are even on the head to head this season after 6 games.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 21, 2021
The Lightning stayed on trend with their recent defeat to the Hurricanes after beating them the previous day, marking the 8th straight time the Lightning have won 1 game and lost the other in 2 match series.
Despite having one of the best squads in the competition, the reigning champs have struggled to keep momentum going for a while, they now find themselves 3 points off the Panthers and Canes, but still comfortably in a playoff position.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.