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Last night’s pick went precisely how I chalked it up. The Pittsburgh Penguins hosted the Edmonton Oilers and despite their first meeting this season ending in a 2-0 score, I just knew that the numbers wouldn’t lie to me once again. I had the OVER 5.5 at +115 and I knew once the Penguins opened the scoring just over four minutes in to the game that this pick was going to hit. What I didn’t know however is that Edmonton would dig themselves out of a 4-0 hole to eventually tie the game at 4-4. Unfortunately for Oil Nation the Pens were able to take the lead for good at 14:38 of the third period and added another tally just a minute later to put the final touches on a 6-4 Pittsburgh victory. Very impressive for Edmonton to rally back like that against a good Penguins team, and I knew all we were going to need was one or two Oiler goals to get OVER the total and we got much more than we asked for. A gratifying win for sure so let’s keep rolling with Friday night’s NHL action featuring five games.
Anaheim Ducks @ Minnesota Wild
My Pick – DUCKS (+130)
The third and final meeting this season between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild takes place tonight in the State of Hockey as the hometown Wild look to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Ducks with both teams very likely to take part in postseason hockey this season. Anaheim has struggled lately as they are winless in their last three and have also failed to record a point over those three contests and but that is coming on the heals of a stretch that saw them go 7-1-0 in their previous eight. The Wild have been the NHL’s best team since mid-January as the under-hyped team has gone an impressive 19-4-2 but they have not faired very well against this Ducks team in recent history. Anaheim has won eight of their last nine games against the Wild and carry a five-game win streak at Minnesota in to tonight’s tilt, albeit each game was won by just a single goal, like most of Minnesota’s games come down to. Devan Dubnyk has been the story of the Wild’s surge up the Western Conference standings since the new year arrived but it is always difficult against an Anaheim offense that features Ryan Getzlaf (who scored two first period goals in Calgary on Wednesday), former league MVP Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and productive young players such as Matt Beleskey (21 goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (21 assists). Frederik Andersen figures to get the nod for Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks tonight as John Gibson was torched for six goals against the Flames and given Andersen’s success on the road this season it’s no surprise to see the Ducks go back to their previous number 1 goalie. Andersen has allowed two or fewer goals in seven of his last eight road starts to go along with a 5-2-1 record and a 1.76 goals against average. I will not hide the fact that goals are likely to be at a premium this evening in Minnesota but they usually are at the Xcel Energy Center, especially when the goaltending is performing like both of tonight’s starts have this season. The Ducks are definitely looking for a better effort out of their team tonight after a semi-embarrassing defeat on Wednesday, so I will bank on that and expect this team to come out extremely hard tonight. I still believe the Ducks are the better team despite their mini losing streak so let’s go with the road team tonight and take the Ducks at a great price.