We aimed to begin the week on a winning note last night and that is just what we did as the Ottawa Senators continued their hot streak and downed the Carolina Hurricanes by a 2-1 count. Both regulation goals came within the first five minutes of the game and it looked as if it was going to be a high scoring affair, however the teams remained scoreless for the remainder of regulation and Ales Hemsky scored the lone shootout goal to grab the two points for the Sens. Tonight there are 11 games on the slate and playoff positioning will be on the line in several of these matchups.
Colorado Avalanche @ Columbus Blue Jackets
My Pick – UNDER 5.5 (-130) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
An important cross-conference matchup takes place tonight in Columbus, Ohio as the Colorado Avalanche look to improve their playoff position against a Blue Jackets team who is simply trying to get in to the big dance. Colorado sits one point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division and will look to get as many points as possible to secure a home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. For the Blue Jackets they sit in a dog fight for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference along with the likes of the Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Blue Jackets defence has been real stingy over the past four games as the team has given up just two goals in each of those four contests, but a lack of scoring had them winning just two of the four while scoring just eight goals themselves in the process. The Avalanche have won three straight games and will look to make it four against a team that they have beat 11 times over their last 16 attempts. Although the Avs rank 5th in the NHL in goals for per game on the road (2.9), they haven’t exactly lit the lamp in Nationwide Arena as the UNDER is 7-1 over their last eight games in this venue. Not helping the cause for the Avalanche is the fact that Matt Duchene, the teams leading scorer with 70 points in 71 games, will miss the next 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. Columbus is missing one of their offensive threats as well with Nathan Horton missing tonight’s contest with a lower body injury. Semyon Varlomov has been a great story this season for Colorado with a 2.49 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, and he could face his Russian counterpart in Sergei Bobrovsky with an equally impressive 2.47 goals against average. The UNDER is 8-4 over Colorado’s last 12 games, and 7-1 over Columbus’ last eight games. Take the UNDER tonight between two teams with solid goaltending.
Carolina Hurricanes @ Pittsburgh Penguins
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+112) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
After a shootout loss last night to the Ottawa Senators the Hurricanes are back at it tonight but this time they will need a much better effort to knock off the second best team in the Eastern conference in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins will be going for the season sweep of the Canes tonight as Pittsburgh has won their first three meetings but the two clubs haven’t faced off since late December. The Hurricanes have lost three of their last four games but have scored a respectable 13 goals over their last five contests, however I expect much of the offense tonight to come from the home team. The Penguins are starting to catch their stride once again as they have won their last two games after dropping three in a row. Their most recent win was an impressive 4-1 victory over the defending cup champs in the Chicago Blackhawks at the Consol Energy Centre. Pittsburgh scores 3.4 goals a game on home ice this season, 4th best in the NHL and boast the league’s 3rd ranked powerplay on home ice with a 23.6% clip. The top line for the Penguins are back on track as well with Sidney Crosby grabbing five points over his last four games and linemate Chris Kunitz has recorded two goals and two assists over his last three contests. For Carolina it is Jeff Skinner that has the hot hand as the youngster scored his 30th of the season Monday and now has a goal in four straight games to go along with a five game point streak. Although the UNDER has been a trend for both teams in their recent games, the head-to-head trends say otherwise. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five meetings and in four of their last six meetings in Pittsburgh. Take the OVER tonight and watch a high scoring affair from Pittsburgh.