NHL Daily Free Picks & Predictions
VegasInsider.com NHL expert Matt Blunt provides his score predictions and best bets for one NHL game on Tuesday Feb. 23, 2021.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
Money-Line Odds: Montreal -225; Ottawa +190
Total (Over-Under): 6
Score Prediction: Montreal 4 Ottawa 3
Best Bet: Over 6
To many, the most interesting/surprising thing about the season series between Montreal and Ottawa so far this year (3 games) is the fact that the Senators have won two of those three games so far. They've all been one-goal affairs, but this Montreal team that many were in love with before the start of the season really had this recent downward spiral they find themselves in start with that first loss to Ottawa this year.
Since that 3-2 Ottawa win, Montreal's gone 2-4 SU in the six game since, as for whatever reason(s), Montreal and Ottawa have played like they are much closer in skill than their records would suggest.
I'm not entirely sure that's what we see play out in the remaining games between these two Eastern Canadian rivals, but in current form I don't think you can wholeheartedly trust Montreal to win at this price, nor trust Ottawa to win twice in a row (against the same opponent no less), as they've only done it once this year.
But that does bring me to what I found interesting in the research for this play. Not one of those Montreal/Ottawa games this year has cashed an 'over' ticket.
Neither team is considered an 'over' team this year with Montreal 7-9-1 O/U and Ottawa sporting a 7-12-1 O/U record on their side. But Ottawa's cashed at least one 'over' with every other Canadian team in the division that they've played so far (all but Calgary), and those results are filled with some high scoring and often losing results.
There was the 7-3 loss to Toronto last week as the most recent occurrence for Ottawa, but they've also got an 8-5 loss to Edmonton on there, a 7-1 defeat to Vancouver, and half of their four games with Winnipeg finished with at least six goals.
It's likely only a matter of time before this Montreal offense – who are still 9th in the league in xGF/60 (2.86) – explodes on this Ottawa team and possible puts together a multi-goal win against this Ottawa team like all the other Canadian teams have in this division.
Facing Ottawa might not be the “get well” spot for Montreal that it has been for others, but these tight-checking, low-scoring games have not worked for Montreal against the Senators at all. Even Montreal's win was by a 2-1 score, and that game courtesy of an early 3rd period goal and then hanging on for dear life afterwards.
Teams that are more willing to opening things up against the Senators understand that eventually their more talented team should find ways to find the back of the net, whether it's because of highly skilled plays on their end, or a very young Senators team making numerous mistakes.
And really, what does Montreal have to lose by changing their style up to a faster pace against the Sens. Trying to win games 3-2 against this team hasn't brought much success at all.
From Ottawa's perspective, they don't trail Montreal by too much in the xGF/60 category at 2.75 and even though uptempo games have brought plenty of defeats, the Senators are plenty comfortable in those games as it is. They understand they are a young team that's undermanned most nights, and asking them to be a sound defensive team on a nightly basis is somewhat of a huge ask.
In Ottawa games that they've allowed two goals or fewer, the following outing has seen them allow 2, 3, 5, and 7 goals against, with that “2” coming against this same Montreal team.
Even with this matchup accounting for the lone outlier in that pattern, and these two teams on a 0-7 O/U run in head-to-head matchups, it's still the third game in four nights for Montreal – the Canadiens are 8-2-1 O/U when playing 3 in 4 – and Ottawa's on a 18-7-1 O/U run when playing team that scored two goals or less last time out.
The gravy train that is the 'under' in Montreal/Ottawa games won't last forever as I said earlier, and right now it does give off the impression of being a good 'buy low' spot for an 'over' between these two, with Montreal's overall struggles of late, and their season long struggles scoring against Ottawa.
The move to a flat '6' in the total happened in Sunday's game between these two, but to have 71 shots combined and be 0-for-7 on the power play between the two of them, it may have been a game that was a little unlucky not to see six goals scored.
Don't think we see a scoreless period like we did in that game tonight, as we get 7+ goals from these two teams for the first time this season.
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