The home stretch of the NHL season is definitely upon us as contending teams need to jockey for playoff positioning, fringe teams try to make sure they’re within sight of the postseason, and cellar-dwellers look to serve as spoilers.
Friday’s best matchup is the one between the top teams in the Metropolitan Division — the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes — and that should be a great game. The New Jersey Devils also visit the New York Rangers in a rivalry that’s always fun.
Let’s preview all seven of Friday’s games and note the NHL betting lines for each:
Minnesota Wild vs Buffalo Sabres
The Minnesota Wild finally snapped a four-game losing streak with a crazy 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night and the Wild are back at it against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. The Wild used a pair of goals that were scored 25 seconds apart in the third period — by Matt Boldy and Jonas Brodin — to come back and beat the Flyers.
The Sabres stunned the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 on Wednesday night to end a six-game skid and Buffalo will look to keep that momentum going.
If you’re betting online, the Wild on the puckline is an interesting pick. It was big for Minnesota to get off the schneid and maybe the win over Philadelphia was the nudge the Wild needed to break out of their funk. The Sabres’ goalie situation is still pretty dire too.
Detroit Red Wings vs Tampa Bay Lightning
Back in action the day after a lackluster loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Tampa Bay Lightning will be hungry for a bounceback as they play host to a Detroit Red Wings team fresh off an impressive overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay’s loss — a rare blowout defeat for both the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy — ended a six-game winning streak. With how good Tampa Bay is at home and how much Detroit has struggled on the road, you might think the Lightning are a lock as huge home favorites. But, Brian Elliott will likely get the start for Tampa Bay which gives Detroit a sizable advantage in net. Consider taking the Red Wings straight-up as underdogs.
New Jersey Devils vs New York Rangers
The latest edition of the Hudson River Rivalry between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers should be a good one. The Devils lost their most recent game but New Jersey has been playing much better since the return of Jesper Bratt and Dougie Hamilton from injury, especially on offense.
As for the Rangers, who got a big home win against the St. Louis Blues at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Igor Shesterskin continues to look like the Vezina Trophy favorite which is great. The even more important news is that he got some offensive help, as the Rangers scored five goals for the first time in a month.
New York is a solid home favorite here as the Rangers should be with Shesterkin going up against Jon Gillies or Nico Daws. The under is a smart play as well because eight of Shesterkin’s last 10 starts have gone under.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Carolina Hurricanes
Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes played on Thursday night and things couldn’t possibly have gone more differently for each side. The Penguins routed the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 behind goals from five different scorers — and another strong effort in net from Tristan Jarry — while the Hurricanes were shutout 4-0 by the Washington Capitals.
Backup netminders Casey DeSmith and Antti Raanta will probably be in net on Friday night, which might be why Carolina is solidly favored. Both are capable No. 2 goalies but Raanta is having a better overall season and the Hurricanes, coming off a loss, might be the hungrier team in this one.
Los Angeles Kings vs Columbus Blue Jackets
The Los Angeles Kings have crashed after winning five-straight games and they’ll try to avoid a third loss in a row as they play the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have won five of seven.
Los Angeles got great goaltending from both Jonathan Quick and Calvin Petersen during its streak and that has taken a turn for the worse lately. Meanwhile, Columbus’ offensive attack — which propelled the Blue Jackets to a 7-1-0 record for most of February — rebounded in a win over New Jersey on Tuesday after a few days of sluggish play.
The Kings are slight road favorites on the BetUS sportsbook and are worth a straight-up bet.
Dallas Stars vs Winnipeg Jets
Both the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets have won two in a row so this game — an important one for each team’s playoff situation — should be hotly contested. Jake Oettinger has been on some kind of tear for the Stars lately. He has started Dallas’ last seven games and has allowed a total of 11 goals in those games, which is about as good as it gets.
Jake Oettinger's last 10 starts:
7-2-1, 1.86 GAA, .939 SV%.
— Brien Rea (@BrienRea) February 27, 2022
Winnipeg, however, cannot say the same about Connor Hellebuyck who has been fine this season but isn’t close to his usual standard of play. The Jets haven’t gotten him much support either, which doesn’t help.
This game is essentially a pick’em. Take the Jets because there’s a chance Oettinger gets an off night with Dallas playing again on Sunday afternoon.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks
Less than 24 hours after a brutal 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins, the Vegas Golden Knights are back on the horse as they visit the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night. Vegas has lost six of eight and is struggling to score recently. The Golden Knights have scored just 15 goals in those eight games.
Anaheim hasn’t been a whole lot better. The Ducks have lost two of three and six of nine. However, they’re coming off a surprising 4-3 win over Boston in which Trevor Zegras knocked in the game-winner with just 22 seconds left in regulation so the Ducks are on a high.
Vegas is a slight road favorite. The move here might be to take Anaheim straight-up with the rest advantage and likely goalie advantage as well. The value is good on that and on the over.