Carolina Hurricanes at Nashville Predators

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Carolina Hurricanes head to the Music City in Nashville to take on the Predators in a Central Division matchup. The Hurricanes are third in the division with a 14-6-1 record, and the Predators are sixth in the division with a 10-11-0 record. Both teams have won two straight going into this matchup.

Predators Looking to Continue Strong Play

It’s been a rough year for Nashville, who simply haven’t been themselves this year. They’re coming off a sweep against a struggling Columbus Blue Jackets team, outscoring their opponent 5-2 over two games, and have won four of their last five.

Their last win, a 3-1 decision over Columbus at home, came off solid all-around team play. Filip Forsberg recorded an assist and continues to lead the team in points with 19 (9 goals, 10 assists), and Nick Cousins, Erik Haula, and Eeli Tolvanen each scored goals. Forsberg’s leadership and production has been vital as Matt Duchene continues to not live up to his pricy contract with only eight points and a team-worst plus/minus of -12. All for $6 million.

The Preds score an average of 2.29 goals per game, and allow an average of 3.05. They average 31.9 shots on net per game and allow 29.1 per game, as well. They’re right at the top of the bottom third of the league in most statistical categories, but are trending lately with solid team and defensive play.

Juuse Saros played tremendously in the Columbus series, starting both games. He stopped 29 of 30 shots in the first game and 28 of 29 in the second. Seasoned veteran Pekka Rinne started both games of the previous series against Detroit, recording a shutout before allowing five goals in the loss in the second game, splitting the series.

Carolina Hoping to Pick Up Points

Carolina’s place in the standings is mostly due to a hot start to the year. In recent games, they dropped three of four against Tampa Bay (a gauntlet for any team in the NHL right now), and recently swept two games against the Florida Panthers, a great pick-me-up series against a great team. Both wins came in extra time, the first win in a shootout, the second in overtime.

Brett Pesce and Vincent Trocheck scored in regular time, while Sebastian Aho set up Martin Nečas for the game-winner in overtime. Nečas had two assists to go with his goal, for three points in the game. Trocheck and Aho lead the team in points with 18 Trocheck with 11 goals and 7 assists, Aho with 6 goals and 12 assists.

Carolina is fourth in the NHL with 29 points over their 14-6-1 record and has shown streaks of brilliance over that time. They average 3.24 goals scored per game and allow an average of 2.76 goals to opponents. They have one of the top power-play units in the league, capitalizing on 27.9% of their opportunities (fifth in the NHL), and rank 12th in the league for penalty kill with 80.8%.

The Carolina goaltenders have been excellent as of late despite the losses to Tampa Bay, recording save percentages above 90% in six straight games, including Alex Nedeljkovic’s shutout against Tampa Bay on 2/20.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

Carolina is a great team and among the NHL’s elite this year. Their power play and penalty kill units are particularly potent, and their ability to share the scoring load and play unselfishly is superb. Nashville is figuring out, and things are picking up. Role players are coming out and contributing, but it won’t be enough to beat Carolina. Carolina wins, but Nashville covers.

Nashville +1.5

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Full-Game Total Pick

These haven’t been two high-scoring teams, especially lately. Nashville averages less than three goals per game, Carolina is just over three. Goalies on both teams are playing better as of late, so shooters will struggle, even with ample opportunity. Go with the under.

Under 5.5