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Well they don’t get much easier than that. Last night’s pick of OVER 5.5 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers was notched in to the win column before the game was even 28 minutes old. Thanks to three first period tallies and a Philadelphia goal scoring explosion in the second period, this game got high-scoring in real hurry. The Flyers scored five second period goals in just over 13 minutes to grab a 6-1 stranglehold on the Lightning and wound up knocking off the Eastern Conference’s best team by a 7-3 score. I expected Philly to score some on their home ice, especially with backup Evgeni Nabokov getting the start for Tampa Bay, however they torched the backup for 4 goals on just 13 shots, and despite only 25 shots on goals, they managed to score seven times. Always nice to have a winner locked up before the game is halfway done, and I will take that momentum in to tonight’s NHL action that features ten games.
Colorado Avalanche @ Carolina Hurricanes
My Pick – AVALANCHE (+115)
The Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes will meet for the second and final time this season after the Avalanche rallied back from a 3-1 deficit to knock off the Canes on November 22nd in Colorado. Carolina has been playing better hockey recently as their shootout loss to St. Louis on Saturday night snapped a three game winning streak for Bill Peters’ squad. Colorado comes in to this one having played last night, suffering a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals who have been playing excellent hockey as of late. That loss also snapped a three-game winning streak for Colorado who will be playing their second game of a five-game road trip tonight in Raleigh. An Avalanche team that greatly exceeded expectations last year has taken a large step back this year, although their recent play has them believing they can make a second-half push for the playoffs and I expect them to show some of that desperation this evening. Colorado had a great third period in last night’s game, clearly finding their legs after a slow first two frames. Their young core that features Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon, and Matt Duchene will be able to play on back-to-back nights with no problems as they also have some veterans who can lead the way in these types of situations. Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay are both having nice seasons as they are 1-2 in Avalanche scoring so far with 28 points apiece and have shown there is plenty left in the tank. They go up against a Hurricanes team who is scoring just 2.05 goals per game and although they scored four in St. Louis, don’t get used to that type of offense from this team consistently. Calvin Pickard makes his first start since Dec 27th and brings in a 2.10 goals against average and a 3-1-2 record in his last six starts. His .934 save percentage on the season will maker things difficult for the Canes offense tonight in what will be a tough game up against one of the league’s faster teams in Colorado. Take the Avs tonight at a great price to knock off one of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams.
Ottawa Senators @ Dallas Stars
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (-115)
The Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars square off for the first of two January meetings between the two clubs this evening in Dallas before the teams reunite for a meeting in Ottawa on January 29th. Stars Center Jason Spezza will face off against his former club in this one after being shipped from Ottawa to Dallas this past offseason. Spezza has a found a nice home in Dallas and his fitting in well with a Stars team that can score goals with the best of them. Dallas has the league’s leading goal scorer in Tyler Seguin who has found twine 26 times this season to go along with 48 points. This will be Ottawa’s last game of a four-game road trip and I know very well that teams can certainly come out flat in he last game of a long trip away from home. However, they did score five goals in their most recent action in Arizona, so don’t write the Sens off yet, as long as they can keep the puck out of their own net. That goes for both teams as Dallas is 28th in the league in goals against per game at 3.27, but they do score 3.03 goals per game on offense which ranks 5th in the league. The Sens snapped an eight-game stretch of zero powerplay goals against Arizona with two tallies with the man advantage and will go up against a vulnerable penalty kill that kills penalties at just a 79.6% clip, 21st in the NHL. Dallas and Ottawa give up the 24th and 26th most shots per game respectively, indicating both goaltenders will be very busy tonight. Dallas tends to play more of a wide-open, Eastern Conference style game which is unusual for teams coming out of the West, which has been Dallas’ biggest issue this season when playing within their own conference. However, this attribute will work to our advantage with this pick so take the OVER 5.5 tonight between these two and watch the goals get pumped in.