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Toronto Maple Leafs to beat Calgary Flames
The Flames scored early on Friday night and really never looked back against a Maple Leafs team that couldn’t find the goals to make a comeback. The first shot on goal for the Flames beat Frederik Andersen as Toronto’s starting goalie continues to struggle this season. The Maple Leafs will be going with backup Jack Campbell, who has gone through some injury trouble this year, but is undefeated in three starts so far.
Campbell could be the X-factor for the Leafs as he may see his playing time rise. The 29-year-old has been rock solid in the games he’s played, the last of which came on Feb. 27 when he stopped all 30 shots he faced in a big win over the Edmonton Oilers. Campbell also has a win over the Flames, which is where he suffered the first injury that sidelined him this season. He made 31 saves in that contest, securing the win while playing hurt after Matthew Tkachuk landed on him.
The Flames are a bit of a different team now, though. They’ve got wins in four of five games with Darryl Sutter behind the bench. They’ve scored at least three goals in each of their last four games, seemingly getting their offense to click a bit better. Even with the improved play, beating Toronto in two straight should prove challenging for the Flames.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday night he expects the team to play a much better game in front of Campbell, as they have done in all of his previous starts. On top of that, Auston Matthews has gone three straight games without a goal and it’s especially hard to keep him at bay for much longer than that.
Edmonton Oilers to beat Winnipeg Jets
In a rare low-scoring affair, the Oilers managed to beat the Jets by a 2-1 score. Connor McDavid scored twice and Mikko Koskinen had one of his better games of the season in net. The Oilers were facing the Jets’ backup in that game, so they should anticipate getting starter Connor Hellebuyck on Saturday night.
Winnipeg has been an especially tough team to beat in consecutive games this year. They’ve only lost two straight once this season and that was against two different opponents. A lot of that has to do with their spectacular goaltending from Hellebuyck, but this is a team that often responds to a low-scoring night by putting up some big goals.
So why not go with the Jets tonight? The Oilers are cooking right now. With wins in six of their last eight games, things are clicking in a way for Edmonton that they hadn’t been earlier in the season. The Oilers also tend to respond with a big offensive explosion when they’re held more in check.
Connor McDavid is now up to 20 goals and is opening up a healthy lead on the race for the overall scoring title. He has 58 points, Leon Draisaitl has 49 and no team has found an answer for either. McDavid has 11 points in his five games against Winnipeg, while Draisaitl has six including four goals.
Montreal Canadiens to beat Vancouver Canucks
The Habs have owned the Canucks this season, plain and simple. Montreal has points in all eight games to date against Vancouver with five wins and three overtime/shootout losses. Montreal has scored 36 goals and allowed just 22 in their season series with the Canucks. But Vancouver did get the better of the Habs Friday night in a thrilling 3-2 OT win.
No player has owned the Canucks quite like former Canuck, Tyler Toffolli, who has eight goals and 13 points in the seven contests between the two teams. He was held off the scoresheet on Friday night, however, so it’s hard to imagine he’ll be held off again.
A game like this might just be what the doctor ordered for the Habs because they’ve still been struggling even after making the coaching change. With losses in 11 of their last 15 games, they need to find some positivity. The disappointment of Friday’s loss should be fresh and they get a chance to get right back on the horse.
There should be desperation to get off of this slide against a team they’ve had a lot of success against. With a likely goaltending matchup between Carey Price and Braden Holtby for Saturday night, that’s yet another reason to give Montreal the advantage in this one.
New York Islanders to beat Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers had such a strong response to getting embarrassed by the New York Rangers 9-0 last week by turning around and beating the Islanders in a tight 4-3 win. That was the first Islanders regulation loss on home ice this year. It’s going to be really hard for Philadelphia to beat them twice in a row in that building.
The Islanders have a clear goaltending advantage, regardless of who they start. The goaltending has been a trouble spot for the Flyers all season, with neither Carter Hart nor Brian Elliott finding enough consistency. Meanwhile, the Isles have a fairly balanced scoring attack, even though they’ve lost captain and leading goal-scorer Anders Lee for the remainder of the season.
Even though the Flyers found a way to beat the Isles in regulation on Long Island, they just have not shown the consistency lately to prove they can do it twice with how tough the Isles have been of late.
Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton all to win
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