Anaheim Ducks (+111) at Nashville Predators (-121, 5.5 o/u)
One of the most anticipated games of the week in the NHL sees the two best teams in Western Conference – Anaheim and Nashville – clashing at the Bridgestone Arena tonight (8:00 p.m. Eastern).
Both teams are sitting on 72 points heading into tonight’s game and lead their respective divisions. However, the Preds have a game in hand.
The Ducks have won seven of their last nine games, including a 5-4 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes last night. Anaheim trailed 4-2 in the third period, but Devante Smith-Pelly and Corey Perry scored late to level it, and then captain and Hart Trophy candidate Ryan Getzlaf won it in OT.
“You never give up,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s something that I think in the third periods we haven’t done at all this year, and I don’t think it’s in their character to do that”.
The Predators, meanwhile, have won three of their last five, including two in a row over Pittsburgh (4-0) and Toronto (4-3). The Preds have been impeccable on home ice this season, going 19-6-3 in Nashville.
“I think that’s something we take pride in,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “These are our fans and they are terrific.”
Nashville has kept its dream season going despite losing the league’s other top Hart Trophy candidate, Pekka Rinne, for the last few weeks with a knee injury. His replacement, Carter Hutton, was serviceable in his stead, going 4-4-4 in 12 starts with a .900 save percentage. Rinne has been cleared to play tonight and will get the start in his first game back.
The total has hit the over in the last five games between these two teams. Given Anaheim’s high-powered offense and the fact that Rinne will be making his first start in weeks, the over might be the best play tonight.
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)