This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
We're in the home stretch of the regular season, and for many teams vying for playoff contention, every point counts. The four games I've analyzed here all feature important matchups that will impact the standings so these teams will have a reason to compete. Here are your 4 best NHL bets for tonight in those games!
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Top NHL Picks Tonight
Canadiens vs Sabres
Both of these teams are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. The Habs were not ever considered a playoff contender this year so it's actually in their best interest to flounder down the stretch in pursuit of the highest draft pick they can get in the upcoming draft. The Sabres on the other hand were trying to break into the postseason but find themselves 6 points back of the Penguins for the final Wild Card spot in the East. Buffalo's gotten 2 big wins against the Devils and Islanders in their previous two games though. The Canadiens just bested the Blue Jackets 8-2 on Saturday. Sabres superstar Tage Thompson is a game-time decision and risks missing his first game all season, but I still like the home team in this one.
Sabres ML -180
Panthers vs Senators
Overall the Panthers have won each of their last 4 games against the Senators. The Cats have dropped 3 games in a row down the stretch though and are no longer in the final Wild Card spot in the East, sitting at 3 points back as of tonight. These will be crucial points to pick up for both squads, as the Senators are 7 points back and are looking to snap out of a funk that's seen them lose 7 of their last 9 games. This should be a hard-nosed tilt, especially with the brothers of Matthew Tkachuk and Brady Tkachuk squaring off against one another. I think the Senators keep it close on home ice.
Senators PL -180
Devils vs Islanders
If the Devils can sneak into the top spot in the Metropolitan Division, they'd lock in the 2nd seed in the East for the postseason. That would pit them against the first Wild Card spot, which is currently being held by the Islanders. However it shakes out, this will be a playoff-style matchup tonight. The Devils are 26-6-4 on the road this season, which is the second-best away record in the NHL behind the Bruins' 27-8-2 mark. The Isles play tough at home though at 21-13-3, but have managed to take just 1 of their last 3 home games and were most recently shut out by the Sabres on Saturday. Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin is one of the game's best and is 6-1-2 in his last 9 starts. I think he steals one tonight.
Islanders ML +110
Kraken vs Wild
The Wild just nabbed the top spot in the Central Division on the back of a 14-1-4 record over its last 19 games. It's almost guaranteed they'll make it tough on their opponents when playing in their own building, too, as they're 8-3-2 in their own barn since Jan. 31.
The Kraken will come out swinging as they push for the 3rd spot in the Pacific, which they trail Edmonton by three points for. This is the last game of a 4-game road trip for Seattle and they're 2-0-1 so far with an overtime win in Dallas to kick it off. As exciting as it is to see the Kraken contending for playoff position in just their second season in the league, I think the Wild are just playing at a higher level that's hard to bet against on home ice.
Wild ML -120