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Canucks to beat Stars 

This game is of massive importance to both teams as they look to stay relevant in the Western Conference playoff race. The Stars are currently in the last wild card spot and have three games in hand over the Canucks who trail by four points. The Canucks have points in each of their last three games, but there’s two overtime losses in there, while the Stars have won three straight.

The critical nature of this game should sharpen both teams, which makes this more of a pick-em game for me. I think this one could go either way, but I think the Canucks have shown that, as long as they get the goaltending, they’ve got a chance. The Stars, however, have impressive wins over the Capitals, Oilers and Hurricanes where their offense was really clicking.

Every game from here on out is a must-win for the Canucks, but few are bigger than this one. I like the way they’ve showed up in those type of games before. They’ve shown that they can get hot. This one is simply gut feel because it’s been tough to get a read on either of these teams in their current state. Anything can happen in a playoff race and I think the Canucks are on the cusp of breaking out again.

Maple Leafs to beat Canadiens 

The Leafs have won three of their last four games, while the Habs have lost six of their last eight. Toronto and Montreal have split the season series to date, but the Habs are significantly diminished out of the trade deadline. As well as they’ve played, they’re just not quite where they need to be to be competitive against a Leafs squad that is trying to get things moving in the right direction and keep it that way as they build towards the postseason.

Toronto is expected to start rookie Erik Kallgren, who is 2-1-1 and has a .930 save percentage through his first four appearances in the NHL. He’s come out of nowhere to give the team a shot in the arm and help solidify their position of greatest concern.

Auston Matthews is playing at an MVP level right now and is in the midst of a seven-game point streak. He also has 19 goals in 25 career games against the Habs. With how he’s going right now, I don’t see how Montreal can stop him or the rest of the Leafs at this point.

Panthers to beat Senators 

The Sens should be standing a little taller after dominating Winnipeg in a 5-2 win Thursday. They also won their last game on home ice, a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. But here come the Panthers, which is 1-0 since gaining some key pieces at the NHL trade deadline.

Claude Giroux made an instant impact with his new team, notching two assists in their 4-3 win over Montreal Thursday. That game was closer than it needed to be, but the Panthers depth won out, just as I would expect it to here. But Ottawa showed in their last game that they’re not going quietly.

I’ve really liked the battle from Ottawa throughout the latter portion of the season. I think they’re trying to set themselves up better for the future and establish a culture. So they’re not going to be a pushover in any game they play. But I fully expect the loaded Panthers lineup to pick up another win. In addition to winning their last game, they’ve only played one game over the last week. That level of rest this time of season is invaluable.

Flames to beat Oilers 

Calgary has to play back-to-back games and the Oilers are surging a bit. This is going to be an absolute classic Battle of Alberta. On top of that, Edmonton has won two of three so far this season. The schedule sets up more favorably for the Oilers, but the Flames are at home. The home team has won every game in this season series to date.

With the Flames playing Arizona Friday and not having to travel, I’m not as concerned about their playing in back-to-backs, especially with how they can stagger their goaltenders. Calgary is 19-6-6 at home so far this season, not including Friday night’s game against Arizona.

The Oilers, however, have been buzzing a little bit, especially Connor McDavid. It looks like McDavid is on the path to a fourth Art Ross Trophy as the league’s scoring champion. He has a league-best 95 points and is currently on an eight-game points streak with multi-point games in seven of those contests. He’s been unstoppable and has 26 goals in 33 career games against Calgary.

This is going to be a close game, but I still like the Flames too much on home ice.