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I ended last week on a positive note Friday night as I had the Anaheim Ducks to go in to Minnesota and take a third straight game this season from Minny and they did just that with a hard fought 2-1 victory. That makes nine wins for the Ducks over their last ten tilts against the Wild and I am sure Minnesota is not looking forward to a possible playoff series against Anaheim this year. I will always take a good hard look at one of the league’s top teams when their odds are at a level such as +130 like Anaheim was priced at on Friday. It doesn’t always work out, however it is definitely worth a look when such a good team is such a heavy underdog. With that being said let’s move on from last week and take a look at the four games that appear on tonight’s NHL schedule.
Washington Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+120)
The Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres will meet for the third and final time this season tonight but this matchup will be their first contest in Buffalo between the two clubs this season. The two teams split their first two meetings this season in Washington with the Sabres edging the Caps 2-1 in November while the Caps throttled the Sabres by a 6-1 count just nine days ago. The Capitals are coming off of a very important 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins just last night which could very well mean that Braden Holtby will get the night off as this looks like the perfect opportunity for the Capitals to rest their workhorse number one goaltender. Holtby has played in a whopping 61 games this season for Barry Trotz and in my opinion has earned himself a night off against the NHL’s worst team this evening. Keeping Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom off the scoresheet was going to be a very difficult task for Buffalo to begin with and now it appears they will be without Zach Bogosian and Andrej Meszaros as both defenseman suffered injuries over the weekend. The loss of Bogosian in particular is a big blow for Buffalo as he has consistently led the team in ice time since being acquired along with Evander Kane from the Winnipeg Jets and would have likely drawn the assignment of playing against Ovechkin and Backstrom all night long. Now it’s up to an inexperience group of Buffalo defenders to handle these two along with the rest of the Capitals formidable offense and my bet is they won’t be up to the task. Washington scores 2.89 goals per game which is 8th best in the NHL and the Sabres give up 3.32 goals per game which is second-last in the league to only the Edmonton Oilers. Washington’s lights-out powerplay sits at 25% on the season and is only topped by Detroit’s 25.3% clip with the man advantage, while the Sabres penalty kill sits at a lowly 74.7% which is the worst mark in the NHL. Backstrom leads the league with 53 assists while Ovechkin leads the league with 45 goals and both sit with 71 points and only one behind the NHL’s scoring leader John Tavares. If you don’t get the point yet I am expecting Washington’s top line to dominate the Sabres this evening and make things very tough on Anders Lindback and the youthful Buffalo defense. Also keep in mind the Sabres managed four goals against a similar club last week in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins so it’s not as if Washington has to score six to win this pick. Like I said when I took the OVER (and hit it) in that game, all we likely need is a Buffalo goal or two and this thing is as close to a lock as you will see. Take the OVER 5.5 tonight at a great price and watch the goals fly in.