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Another tough pill to swallow last night with my only pick of the night as the Dallas Stars looked poised to knock off the Edmonton Oilers by a pair of goals, however Edmonton managed the only tally of the third period and the Stars won by a single goal in a 3-2 final. Despite keeping the shot totals close, this game had no business being a one-goal affair. Dallas had the majority of golden scoring chances and simply couldn’t finish. Also, for some reason the Oilers waited until there was just 30 seconds left on the clock to pull their goalie, a questionable move by a questionable coach in Dallas Eakins who surely has to be on the hot seat after seven consecutive losses. Unfortunately I have been on the wrong side of some extremely close results over the last few picks I have made, but fortunately bad luck does not last forever. I am back at it tonight with nine games on the slate!
New York Rangers @ Tampa Bay Lightning
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+100)
This is a game that has one storyline and one storyline only: the return of Marty St. Louis to Tampa Bay. The veteran forward will make his first appearance at the St. Pete Times Forum in a Rangers uniform since he was granted his request to be traded at last year’s trade deadline. St. Louis is likely to get plenty of cheers from the hometown crowd but also likely to get some mild booing as some did not appreciate the manner in which he departed from Tampa Bay. Regardless, St. Louis is fitting in nicely with his new team and that has been especially true since the return of Derek Stepan as St. Louis has seven points in eight games since his centreman has been healthy and sits at 17 points on the season to rank second on the team behind Rick Nash. The Rangers have been up-and-down this season after reaching last year’s Stanley Cup Finals, and that is partly due to Henrik Lundqvist not playing like the King Henrik we have grown to love over the last several seasons. Lundqvist has not been terrible, however his .914 save percentage is below his career average and New York surrenders 2.7 goals per game, a number that could very well increase tonight given the fact the Lightning score an impressive 3.48 goals per game this season. Tampa Bay is also one of the more potent scoring teams on home ice, and it’s not surprise to anyone given the youthful talent this team possesses. That youth is sometimes the reason for a wide-open, end to end game in which scoring chances come in bunches. This game also features two 14-goal scorers, the Rangers’ Rick Nash and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos. I am looking for these two along with many others to get on the scoresheet tonight in what is shaping up to be an emotional and intense game from Tampa Bay.
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Pittsburgh Penguins
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+100)
The Leafs and Pens meet for the third and final time this season as Pittsburgh has taken the first two games of the season series, outscoring the Leafs 7-3 in two tilts so far at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. For the last few seasons Toronto has been one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL, and have been especially vulnerable against a Penguins team that is jam-packed with elite talent. The Penguins are scoring 3.5 goals per game so far this season and they have a powerplay that has clicked at 33.3% on the year. Take a second to digest those numbers. They have three players in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and newcomer Patrick Hornqvist who all are playing at over a point-per-game pace, with Crosby typically leading the league with his 29 points. Toronto is no slouch in the offensive end of the ice either as their 3.19 goals per game is near the top of the league and Phil Kessel is one of the game’s most dangerous snipers and has been for several seasons. The bottom line for this tilt is the Penguins and Leafs both score plenty of goals, and the Leafs surrender plenty themselves and have been lit up several times by the Penguins in recent history. That is why I bumped the total up to 6 for this game to get a better price. Take the OVER tonight whether it is 5.5 or 6, and watch these two teams light up the scoreboard from the Consol Energy Center.