There is less than a month of regular season games to play in this already epic year of NHL! With 8 games set to take place today it was hard to narrow it down to just 5! Have a read through our NHL picks for our favourite games of the round.
Detroit Red Wings @ Columbus Blue Jackets – 7.00 PM EDT
The Red Wings head to Columbus following a somewhat unsuccessful 4 match series against the Stars which saw them walk away just 1 win, but still 4 points overall.
The first 2 games were played in Dallas and saw the Red Wings lose both games before heading to Detroit for the final 2 games. They got off to a great start at home with their only win of the series, a 7-3 blowout in which they attempted half the shots of the Stars, and Jakub Vrana made the difference by scoring a double hat trick.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) April 25, 2021
They couldn’t back up their performance the next day, but did amazingly well to scrape a point by taking the game to a shootout despite taking a measly 17 shots to the Stars’ 52.
With just 1 win from the last 5 games, the Red Wings will be eager to try to find some form against the Blue Jackets who have lost their last 9 games straight.
The struggling Columbus side are surprisingly only the second worst performing side in the league at the moment, but that is unlikely to make them feel too much better about their situation.
They have just returned from a difficult 6 game road trip which saw them play some of the best in the division, walking away with just 1 point from a possible 12, and scoring just 9 goals while conceding 25.
With 6 games remaining and playoffs out of reach, the seasons of both sides are over, now it is just about finishing strong. The two sides have played each other 5 times this season with the Red Wings currently leading the head to head with 3 wins.
Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils – 7.00 PM EDT
The Flyers and Devils take their series to New Jersey for the next 2 games of their huge 4 match series, and after Sunday’s shootout win for the Flyers, the Devils will be kicking themselves.
It was a must win game for the East Division’s two worst performing sides, the Flyers had won just 3 of their last 10 games, while the Devils were sitting on a league high 9 straight defeats.
The Devils looked like a sure thing for the win, having scored a goal in each term they were comfortably sitting 3-1 up with less than 2 minutes to go. However, Claude Giroux had other ideas, scoring back to back goals 20 seconds apart to tie the scores up, both of which were assisted by James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek.
After a goalless overtime the game went to a shootout, which just like the game itself, was a thriller, coming down to the 6th shooter for the Flyers to win 3-2.
Not only did the Devils extend their shootout record to an NHL worst, 0-5, but they missed their best chance at a win from their last 10 straight defeats.
While most teams would welcome playing the next game at home, for the Devils, it is unlikely to fill them with confidence given they have won just 4 of 24 home games this season, the worst record in the league.
Buffalo Sabres @ New York Rangers – 7.00 PM EDT
The Sabres run it up again versus the Rangers in New York today following their 6-3 goalfest on Sunday which saw the Rangers take the points.
It was the 7th meeting between the teams this season, and with the win, the Rangers claimed their 5th against the bottom place Sabres, pulling them another important 2 points closer to the Bruins in a playoff position.
Mika Zibanejad got the Rangers off to a strong start with a goal 5 minutes into the game, but Jeff Skinner pulled one back just over a minute later, 1-1.
It didn’t last too long though, as the Rangers scored the next 3 goals unanswered, 2 of which came from Zibanejad, completing his NHL season leading, third hat trick just 22 minutes into the game.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) April 26, 2021
The Sabres pulled a couple goals back, but the Rangers were never too far behind with a goal of their own. Kaapo Kakko finished the match with 2 goals for the Rangers, and Adam Fox bagged a hat trick of assists.
The Rangers took less shots than the Sabres, but they were more efficient with their power plays, scoring 2 power play goals from 3 opportunities while conceding just 1 to the Sabres from 4.
New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals – 7.00 PM EDT
After a shootout defeat last Thursday, the Islanders were once again stunned by the Capitals on Saturday, losing 6-3 on home soil, they now head to Washington to try and redeem themselves in the final match of this 3 game series.
Saturday’s match was a tight affair for the majority of the game, with the Caps pulling ahead early with 2 goals, but the Islanders pulled the score back early into the second period thanks to an efficient power play and a shorthanded effort from Adam Pelech.
Just like in the first term, the Caps broke away with 2 unanswered goals only for the Islanders to reply with another well worked power play goal before the end of the second term.
In the final term, the Caps once again found the back of the net twice, with Evgeny Kuznetsov burying a goal before assisting Daniel Sprong’s second goal to make it 6-3.
Given how strong the Islanders have played at home this season, it was surprising to see them drop both games, and with the final game played in Washington the pressure is on to avoid a clean sweep.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Chicago Blackhawks – 8.00 PM EDT
The Lightning narrowly scraped away with a win over the Blue Jackets on Sunday, coming back from a 1 goal deficit twice to win the game in overtime (4-3).
After also beating the Blue Jackets last Thursday, the Lightning broke the trend that had plagued them for weeks, consistently winning just 1 game of a 2 match series and failing to sweep an opponent.
Ondrej Palat and the aptly named, Brayden Point, both picked up 3 points in the recent victory, but Victor Hedman was the hero with his game winning goal just 10 seconds into overtime.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) April 26, 2021
Hedman leads the Lightning for assists and total points this season, with 35 and 44 respectively, and of all defenders in the league, ranks second for both statistics.
The Blackhawks host and they have just reached the midpoint of a 5 game homestand, the first 2 games were played against the inform Predators, winning the first before losing the second, 3-1
Despite taking more shots than the Predators in the recent game, the Blackhawks were only able to find the back of the net once with a consolation goal late in the final term.
After the Predators victory over the Panthers yesterday, the Blackhawks now find themselves 7 points off a playoff position, they would need to be pretty faultless from here and face a tough run of fixtures.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.