Welcome to NHL Game Day predictions! Each day, we at Last Word on Hockey will break down every game and give our prediction for who will win. This will also include a featured game that should be must-watch hockey. Tonight’s featured game for our NHL predictions is the Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers. This article features the early games for tonight. Be sure to check out the late games too.
NHL Predictions Featuring Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers
Buffalo Sabres vs New York Rangers
Head-to-Head: Sabres 0-0 Rangers
The Buffalo Sabres are one of if not the hottest team in the NHL right now. Sporting an 8-1-1 record and coming off a record fifth straight win at home, they venture out onto the road for a quick two-game set. Jack Eichel is on fire with 14 points already this season and sophomore defenceman Rasmus Dahlin is leading the charge from the backend with 10 points as well. They are getting lights-out goaltending from Carter Hutton who is currently undefeated at 6-0 sporting a stingy 1.65 goals-against average (GAA) along with a .943 save percentage (SV%). Needless to say, the Sabres are firing on all cylinders right now.
The New York Rangers, on the other hand, have struggled since winning their first two games of the season. In the midst of a five-game losing skid, they are struggling to score beyond Mika Zibanejad (11 points) and Artemi Panarin (six points). They also are getting suspect goaltending from the usually reliable Henrik Lundqvist and are still looking for their first win on this five-game homestand after dropping a 3-2 decision in overtime to the Arizona Coyotes. They will have their work cut out for them against the red hot Sabres.
Prediction: Sabres win 4-1
San Jose Sharks vs Montreal Canadiens
Head-to-Head: Sharks 0-0 Canadiens
Coming off back-to-back losses to the red-hot Sabres, the San Jose Sharks are looking for their first win on this long annual eastern conference road trip. A meeting with the Montreal Canadiens could be just what the doctor ordered. The Sharks have dominated this matchup winning nine in a row going all the way back to the 2014-15 season. The 2019-20 season has not started well for head coach Peter DeBoer‘s troops, as they sit two games below .500 and are struggling to find consistency in their game.
Newly minted captain Logan Couture has only scored one goal this season and prized defenceman Erik Karlsson just scored his first goal in their last game. If the Sharks hope to gain any traction, their top players have to start scoring.
Like the Sharks, the Canadiens are also trying to find consistency. The season has been up and down for the team, only winning back-to-back games once. They are coming off a 4-3 loss to the lowly Minnesota Wild. Unlike the Sharks, however, their top players were their top performers early on. Brendan Gallagher and Max Domi are their top scorers tied for first on the team with nine points each. Favorite whipping boy Jonathan Drouin is also having success with four points in his past five games. They will have their work cut out for them, as they attempt to break the long losing streak against the Sharks.
Prediction: Sharks win 3-2
Arizona Coyotes vs New York Islanders
Head-to-Head: Coyotes 0-0 Islanders
The Arizona Coyotes have been one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. They currently are on a four-game winning streak and sport the league’s best goals-against numbers. They are off to a great start to the season. The Desert Dogs aren’t just winning with defensive hockey, they are also doing it offensively, outscoring their opponents 17-6 over the winning streak. Nick Schmaltz has paced them offensively leading the team with nine points so far.
They haven’t needed all-star Phil Kessel to be a key contributor yet, as he only has four points on the season. He will need to get going soon, however, if they hope to continue their hot start. Darcy Kuemper has been lights out sporting a stingy 1.68 GAA and a .944 SV%. Not much is getting by him right now.
The New York Islanders are also on a four-game winning streak, so we will see one team’s streak snapped by the end of this. This game promises to be a tight affair as both teams are riding hot goaltending. The last four games for the Islanders have also been one-goal games with three going into overtime or a shootout. Additionally, they haven’t allowed more than two goals against in any of the games during the streak.
Prediction: Coyotes win 2-1
Carolina Hurricanes vs Columbus Blue Jackets
Head-to-Head: Hurricanes 0-1 Blue Jackets
This will be the second matchup of this young season between these two teams. The Columbus Blue Jackets won the first meeting 3-2 at PNC Arena a couple of weeks ago. Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the winner early in the third period. It was also the first loss of the season for the Carolina Hurricanes. They had won the first five games of the campaign. Since that loss, they have dropped two of the past three games, while also being outscored 9-4 in the process.
They have not played since Oct 18, so fatigue will not be a factor as they try to avoid a third straight loss on the road. If the Hurricanes win this game, Erik Haula and Dougie Hamilton will probably be a factor, as they both are off to hot starts. The former leads the team in goals with seven, while the latter leads the team in points with 10.
The Blue Jackets are coming off a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, where they climbed over the .500 hill for the first time this season. After losing key contributors in the offseason, they have struggled to find consistency early. Free-agent signing Gustav Nyquist has tried his best to fill the void currently tied for the team lead in points with five.
Dubois has also stepped up to the plate with four goals on the season already. First-time starter Joonas Korpisalo looks like he has turned a corner, winning three out of his last four starts. Expect him to man the crease again, as they look for back-to-back wins. He’s done an admirable job taking over for Sergei Bobrovsky, who took his services to the Florida Panthers in the offseason.
Prediction: Hurricanes win 4-3
Be sure to check back tomorrow for another edition of NHL Predictions.