Pucker Up

It’s time for some Tuesday night NHL predictions. Last week we called 3/5 selections correctly and in an attempt at perfection we’re narrowing our focus to four of the nine games taking place this evening.

Carolina @ Washington

The Capitals (6-10-1) are one of the surprises of the lockout shortened season but for all the wrong reasons as they sit near the bottom of the NHL standings.

However, they will be boosted by their performance Saturday night that showed glimpses of the conference topping form of years gone by, with Ovechkin scoring his first hat trick in more than two years in a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

This could therefore be a make-or-break week in the southeast.

A regulation win on Tuesday would pull the Capitals within four points of the first-place Hurricanes (9-7-1). There’s also a road game against the division-contending Winnipeg Jets sandwiched around a game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Tonight’s game also sees the return of Alexander Semin who joined the Hurricanes from the Capitals as a free agent.

Criticised by Capitals coach Troy Brouwer for his work rate, Semin will be keen to put one over his old team and display the motivation he’s been criticised as lacking.

After their victory on Saturday we’re backing Washington to find the form of old at -130.

Boston @ New York

The Boston Bruins will be delighted their early results, but they’ve also played fewer games than any other NHL team.

In part because of a postponement due to a blizzard, Boston (11-2-2) enter this contest with two games in hand on every other club. This means the Bruins have the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference, but they don’t lead the Northeast Division in points.

With a much busier stretch just starting, the Bruins try to finish a five-game road trip with a fourth consecutive victory Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.

New York (8-10-1) have suffered from defensive frailties this season, ranking among the worst in the league with 64 goals conceded.

Offensively they are being carried by John Tavares and Matt Moulson in what has been an uninspiring season so far for the islanders.

Boston have won 15 of 19 meetings with New York 36 and we’re them to make it 16 in 20 at -147.

Buffalo @ Tampa Bay

Tampa centre Steven Stamkos is the NHL’s leading scorer and tonight he’ll meet with one of the league’s poorest defensive teams – you do the maths.

Stamkos led the NHL with a career-high 60 goals last season, while his 97 points were also a personal-best but ranked second to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin’s 109.

Buffalo are on a four-game losing streak and have lost six of the last seven.

Playing six of their next seven games on the road may not be a bad thing for a Buffalo, after their 4-0 loss at home to the Islanders on Saturday prompted boos from the crowd.

We have to favour Tampa in this clash at -152.

Pittsburgh @ Florida

The Pittsburgh Penguins star man Evgeni Malkin will unavailable for their three-game road trip that begins this evening at the Florid Panthers.

The Penguins announced that Malkin has short-term memory loss and was diagnosed with a concussion. Coach Dan Bylsma told the team’s website that the reigning league MVP has not experienced headaches or disorientation since the injury.

But Pittsburgh have already proven they are more than capable without his services as they dispatched Tampa Bay 5-3 on Sunday.

The Florida Panthers have not been enjoying much success in their home rink lately, having been outscored 7-1 in their last two there.

The Panthers (5-9-4) have dropped seven of eight at home, while the Penguins are 8-2-0 on the road.

Add to this the fact that the Penguins have won three of four in Florida and Pittsburgh look strong favourites at -155.

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