The 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing! With 4 more games on the agenda today, we have spent the morning researching each fixture in depth to bring you the absolute best predictions. Have a read below for all our NHL picks.
Calgary Flames @ Vancouver Canucks – 4.00 PM EDT
The Flames and the Canucks run it back in Vancouver today following their 11 goal thriller on Sunday which saw the Flames come out victorious in overtime.
It was the third straight win for the Calgary side, with 16 goals scored over the last 3, and Sunday’s match was no exception, with the Flames putting 6 past the Canucks to claim their 6th win against the Vancouver side from 8 games this season.
The Flames took advantage of a tired Canucks’ side which were feeling the effects of playing twice in 2 days, scoring the first 4 goals unanswered and entering the final term with a comfortable 5-1 lead.
“Right now it’s about showing each other that when we get on the ice, you’re going to play hard for the guy next to you and finish strong.”
Mark Giordano on the mindset headed into the final two games of the season. pic.twitter.com/xWRVA5CEI0
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) May 17, 2021
However, the Canucks rallied in the final term, scoring 4 unanswered goals in the period, 2 of which came on the powerplay and another while playing against the man advantage, forcing the game to overtime.
It took nearly 4 minutes of overtime before Flames’ top scorer, Elias Lindholm buried the winning goal to prevent the Canucks from completing what would have been a very embarrassing comeback.
Today’s match marks the second last game of both teams’ seasons, as we saw on Sunday both the Flames and the Canucks are capable of lapsing and conceding quick fire goals, but our bet is once again with the Flames.
New York Islanders @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Game 2) – 7.30 PM EDT
The New York Islanders stunned everyone with their overtime win over the Penguins in Pittsburgh in game 1 of their playoff series, with that crucial away win in hand the two teams go again today in a must win game for the Penguins.
It was a back and forth match, with the lead changing 3 times before eventually going to overtime. Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring for the Islanders before the Penguins buried the next two, with Sidney Crosby scoring the goal to put them ahead.
The Islanders pulled themselves back into the game early in the third term through Jean-Gabriel Pageau, but it took just 30 seconds for Kasperi Kapanen to level the score up and send it to overtime.
It was an absolute deadlock in overtime, with neither team managing to find the decisive goal after 15 minutes, but with less than 4 minutes to play, Pageau assisted Kyle Palmieri with the game winner, his second goal of the game, and the third point of the match for Pageau.
The Islanders traded for Palmieri during this season’s deadline with the playoffs in mind, since his signing he only managed 2 goals throughout the regular season, the same total as he netted on Sunday.
With 83 shots and 119 hits between the two sides it was an extremely physical, high pace game, which is exactly what we expected from the Islanders and the Penguins. The Penguins host again today and we don’t see them throwing away a second home game when they have been so strong there all year.
Tampa Bay Lightning @ Florida Panthers (Game 2) – 8.00 PM EDT
In one of the standout games of round 1 the Lightning prevailed away from home over the Panthers, thanks in no small part to the return of their star man, Nikita Kucherov, and some last period heroics from Brayden Point.
After convincingly losing in back to back games to the Panthers at the end of the regular season, it looked as if the Lightning would do so again on Sunday when they were chasing a 1 goal lead with less than 10 minutes to play.
However, in the 13th minute of the final term Brayden Point converted with the man advantage to level the score up, and with just over a minute to go he did so again off a breakaway to give the Lightning an important victory.
As predicted, all 3 of Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov returned to the starting lineup, and their impact was game changing, with Stamkos and Hedman bagging 2 and 3 assists respectively, while Kucherov returned from his season long hiatus with an emphatic 2 goal, 1 assist performance.
“I was excited to get back in a game and be with the boys.” #FLAvsTBL
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) May 17, 2021
The match was as statistically tight as the scoreboard was, with both sides taking nearly the same amount of shots, and both giving away a similar number of penalties, however, the Lightning were far more effective when they had the man advantage, scoring with 3 of 4 power play opportunities compared to the Panthers’ 1 of 3.
Minnesota Wild @ Vegas Golden Knights (Game 2) – 10.00 PM EDT
After their 1-0 defeat in game 1 to the Wild, the Knights would be kicking themselves for their loss to the Avalanche at the end of the regular season, the repercussions of which meant they faced the Wild instead of the Blues in round 1.
Of all the teams in the West Division the Knights only held a losing record to one at the end of the regular season, and that was the Minnesota Wild, which once again upset them with their 1-0 overtime win in Vegas on Sunday.
Considering the intensity of the game, and the history of these two sides this season (6 goals on average from 8 games), the 1-0 scoreline came as a surprise.
The Knights took a whopping 42 shots to the Wild’s 30, yet nobody was able to break the deadlock during regulation time, with a lot of credit going to Marc-Andre Fleury and Cam Talbot in net for their respective teams.
After going 60 minutes goalless, it took just 3 minutes of overtime for the winner to be found when Alex Pietrangelo made a poor clearance, allowing Joel Eriksson Ek to take a shot which bounced into the goal off of an unfortunate Alec Martinez.
It was unlike the Knights to blow a game of this calibre on their home turf, but given the troubles they have had up against the Wild it was never going to be an easy win.
The Wild now have that sought after away win under their belt, another win today would make life incredibly hard for the Knights, however, with 42 shots taken for the game, we can’t see them being kept goalless for a second game.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.