In the Crease – Week 20Editor's Note: Don't miss out on 30 days of Winning Hockey Picks from Joe Williams for the 2017-18 NHL regular season. Click to win!
The Nashville Predators topped the St. Louis Blues by a 4-3 score in overtime on Tuesday night behind Pekka Rinne. It was the fifth consecutive game for Nashville where a winner was not decided in regulation. The Predators have won two games in overtime, they have lost once in overtime, and they have split a pair of shootouts during the span. Nashville might not have to work so hard if they could only make their power play work. Over the past five outings they have failed to score on the man advantage. They'll look to avoid another overtime or shootout session when they play host to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are having a difficult time lately on the road. They suffered a 5-3 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday night, dropping back-to-back games in Western New York and at Toronto on Monday night. It is the first time all season that the NHL's points leader (79) has dropped three games in a row on the road. They're still a rather impressive 19-11-2 away from the Suncoast this season, and they're 19-5-1 in 25 games at home. The Lightning are still the only team in the league with more than 200 total goals this season, and they're No. 2 in goal differential at plus-50. They're back home on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings, and Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, before heading out on a three-game road trip starting in Washington next Tuesday.
Wednesday, February 14
The Columbus Blue Jackets roll into Air Canada Centre looking to cool off the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs. The Jackets won on Tuesday night at N.Y. Islanders by a 4-1 score to win for the second consecutive outing after an 0-4-1 skid. Columbus is still just 1-6 across their past seven against teams with a winning overall mark. The Maple Leafs have won four in a row, and five straight at Air Canada Centre. And, for what it's worth, they're 7-3 across their past 10 games on Wednesday. They're also 4-1 in the past five outings while facing an opponent with an overall winning record.
The Montreal Canadiens roll into the Mile High City to take the Colorado Avalanche. The road hasn't been terribly friendly to the Habs lately, as they're 1-8 in their past nine games away from Quebec. They're also just 8-21 across their past 29 against teams with a winning record, while posting a dismal 10-27 record in their past 37 tries against Central Division foes. For Colorado, they're 10-1 over their past 11 games at home while posting an impressive 7-2 mark in their past nine against Eastern Conference clubs. Over the years the Habs haven't had great success against the Avs, especially in Denver, going 2-8 in their past 10 visits to the Mile High City. The home team has won four straight in this series.
Thursday, February 15
The Carolina Hurricanes head to Newark to battle the New Jersey Devils in a very important game in the Eastern Conference, as both teams jockey for a wild-card spot. After Tuesday's play, the Hurricanes were eighth in the East with 63 points with 25 regular-season games remaining. The Devils were just ahead of them with 64 points, sitting in seventh place, with 26 games remaining. This is the first of four meetings this season, including three meetings between now and March 2. Last season it was the Devils winning three of the four matchups, while Carolina won the most recent battle in Newark on March 25 behind former goalie Eddie Lack.
The Vancouver Canucks meet the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center in the final game on the Thursday night schedule. The Sharks have 68 points while sitting in second place in the Pacific Division, and the Canucks are second-to-last with just 50 points. However, each of the past two games have been decided in overtime. The Sharks won 5-4 in overtime on home ice in the most recent meeting on Dec. 21, while the Canucks were victorious in the extra session on Dec. 15 by a 4-3 score. The first meeting went to San Jose by a 5-0 count on Nov. 11. The 'under' has hit in six of the past eight games for the Sharks, although the 'over' has hit in each of their past two vs. the Canucks.
Friday, February 16
It's a light slate on Friday, with just four games. However, the Islanders and Hurricanes have an important battle on tap Friday at PNC Arena in Raleigh. Both teams protected home ice in the previous two meetings, with the Hurricanes doubling up Jaroslav Halak and the Isles by a 4-2 score on Nov. 19 in the most recent battle, while the Islanders pounded Scott Darling and the Canes by a 6-4 count on Nov. 16. The 'over' is 6-3-1 in the past 10 meetings between these two, including 1-0-1 this season.
The Blues and Stars meet for the fourth time this season. The home team has won the previous three battles, including a 4-2 win by the Stars on home ice in the most recent meeting on Dec. 29. In fact, the home team is 6-1 in the past seven regular season meetings. Dallas had been humming right along at home until a shocking 6-0 loss at home to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, so they'll be champing at the bit to get back on track. That loss snapped a five-game winning streak, including three in a row at home.
Saturday, February 17
The East Coast road odyssey for the Los Angeles Kings continues on to Western New York where they'll battle the Buffalo Sabres. It hasn't been a great time away from La La Land for the Kings lately, as they were crowned 7-3 in Raleigh by the Hurricanes on Tuesday night, and that came on the heels of a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay last Saturday. The Kings have dropped three of their past four away from home, and they are a dismal 3-6 while L.A. has been outscored 30-20.
The Maple Leafs and Penguins square off in an important Eastern Conference battle on Saturday night in the Steel City. After years of being dominated by the Pens, the Leafs are making some inroads. They won the only previous meeting this season, 4-3, back in the Steel City on Dec. 9. In fact, the Leafs have won three in a row in this series. The Penguins would like to change that, and they hope to maintain their dominance at home. They're riding an nine-game winning streak on home ice dating back to Jan. 4 when the Hurricanes shut them out 4-0. Pittsburgh is averaging a gaudy 5.22 goals per game during the impressive stretch at home. Toronto entered the week with four victories over their past five on the road.
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