Maple Leafs to beat Senators 

The Senators managed to hold on after surrendering a pair of goals while up 3-0 on Toronto in their home opener, but now they have to head across the province for the rematch. That second win is always a little tougher to get.

The Leafs are expected to go back to Jack Campbell, who started the first game and came on in relief in the second game after Petr Mrazek sustained a groin injury. Campbell stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period to give Toronto a chance. Getting a full game of a sharp-looking Campbell could change the dynamic for Ottawa, which managed to play a really strong game start-to-finish against Toronto.

In the first meeting between the two teams, Ottawa held an edge in the possession metrics, but the Maple Leafs managed to generate as many high-danger scoring chances – 16, according to – while also putting on two more shots on goal at five-on-five. Goalie Anton Forsberg was sharp for Ottawa and may yet earn the start with a day off between games. Keep an eye on who coach D.J. Smith tabs ahead of the game, just to be sure.

With the game being in Toronto and the Leafs getting a longer look at the new Senators, there should be a better opportunity for them to make the adjustments necessary and bounce back. Toronto will still be without Auston Matthews and Ottawa is unlikely to have Brady Tkachuk in the lineup, though the club did manage to sign him to a long-term extension Thursday, which should hasten his return to the lineup. Even without those stars, expect a good game with the home team coming out on top.

Canadiens to beat Rangers 

Two teams trying to find their way after a pair of losses to open the season, Montreal and New York should be playing a little more desperate in this one. The Canadiens have the advantage of being on home ice and having a day to regroup after losses on back-to-back nights with the more shocking of the two coming at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Rangers made a nice comeback against the Dallas Stars only to lose in overtime.

You can go to the old cliché that this one is going to go to the one who wants it more, but that’s rarely the case. It’s early in the season and both teams are going to be wanting to get back on the right track. Montreal can go back to Jake Allen, who is the de facto No. 1 goalie with Carey Price out for an indefinite period. Allen gave the Habs a chance against Toronto in the opener and will be a better option than the less-experienced Samuel Montembault, who struggled against Buffalo.

Team defense, particularly when it comes to allowing scoring chances, has been pretty rough for both teams so far. Both are in the red when it comes to scoring-chances-for percentage through their first two games. I haven’t liked the way either team has looked so far, which is why I’m giving the slight edge to the home Canadiens.

Jets to beat Sharks 

This is a tough one. The Jets will be on multiple days’ rest after dropping a shocking road opener against the Anaheim Ducks, while the Sharks have not yet played a game. Having so many extra days to prepare for a team and game can really help. However, San Jose may not admit it openly, but they’re essentially in a soft rebuild phase right now, which may make them ripe for the picking for a Jets team coming off a loss that had to leave a sour taste in their mouths.

Winnipeg lost to Anaheim 4-1 despite carrying play for much of the game. Former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck was outdueled by John Gibson and if Winnipeg decides to go back to Hellebuyck, I’d expect a much better effort from him. On top of that, I’d expect Winnipeg to find the net a lot more in this game with the number of chances and shots they generated to no avail.

San Jose, meanwhile, is going to have a lineup with four rookies in it, and likely will start offseason acquisition Adin Hill in net, though he has yet to prove himself in a starter’s role at the NHL level. Though San Jose is at home and their success there is to be respected, Winnipeg has too many weapons and the better goaltender. That’s the difference for me.

Oilers to beat Flames 

The first edition of the Battle of Alberta should be a dandy to close out Saturday night’s action. The Flames and Oilers have plenty of history and played each other pretty tight last season. Edmonton won four of the 10 meetings between the two Western Canadian sides with a plus-6 overall goal differential.

The Oilers picked up a hard-fought win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, while the Flames have not played yet. With two days off and a chance to prepare for their rivals, the Oilers should be ready to go in what is often a physical, tense affair.

Edmonton’s speed causes problems for the opposition and they got a quality goaltending performenace out of Mike Smith in the opener. We’ll see if Smith gets the nod again if Dave Tippett wants to ride the hot hand, or if he’ll give Mikko Koskinen a shot on the big Saturday night stage. Either way, the Flames should be the team with the advantage in net as Jacob Markstrom can be tough to beat when he’s on his game. He just wasn’t very consistent last season.

The Flames also have to contend with some changes to their roster, most notably the absence of former captain Mark Giordano who now wears the C for the Seattle Kraken after being picked up in the expansion draft. How this team looks without their anchor on the blue line is going to be awfully interesting to watch.

Edmonton is a tough draw for the Flames right out the gate. They don’t have the pace to be able to keep up with the Oilers, but they’re going to play physical and do their best to make the game uncomfortable for Edmonton’s stars. While I like a team coming into a game healthy and well-rested like the Flames, I don’t think they’re going to be up to Edmonton’s speed yet.

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