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Can the Florida Panthers actually sneak into the playoffs? With Detroit, Ottawa, and Buffalo all struggling to make headway for the final Wild Card spot, and Washington still in freefall, the Panthers are suddenly in a decent position. The Islanders have a five-point lead on them, but the Panthers have three games in hand. This might be the biggest race to watch as the NHL’s schedule dwindles down.

Over 7.5 goals in Montreal Canadiens vs Florida Panthers 

These two teams have piled on the goals in each of their previous meetings, and the Canadiens in particular have been playing high-event hockey of late. Both teams have the potential to score in bunches, and are two of the four least-disciplined teams in the NHL this season.

That means lots of powerplays which, for Florida at least, should mean lots of scoring. The Canadiens will have to do their part at even strength, since their powerplay is terrible. If you want to bump your bet up even higher, you can bet for the Panthers to win while hitting the over on total goals.

Matthew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers) to score anytime vs Montreal Canadiens 

The NHL’s leader in expected goals, and someone who would be getting a lot more love as a potential Hart Trophy candidate if the Panthers weren’t such an inconsistent mess this season, Matthew Tkachuk has been trouble for the Canadiens in each of the team’s prior meetings, scoring four goals and one assist in two games.

With six points and 16 shots in his last two games, Tkachuk is on fire, and once again leading the charge for the Panthers in their attempt to make the playoffs after a disastrous first half of the year.

Ottawa Senators to beat Colorado Avalanche 

While it sounds unlikely on the surface, remember that the Avalanche are on the second-half of a back-to-back, after going through overtime and a shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a hard-fought game on Wednesday.

There’s a tendency to believe that this is a heavy mismatch since the Avalanche are the defending cup champions, and the Senators aren’t in a playoff spot, but keep in mind that over the course of the entire season, the Senators and Avalanche have a nearly identical share of expected goals at 51.11 per cent and 51.17 per cent respectively, and the Sens have done that against the stronger Eastern Conference.

Pittsburgh Penguins to beat New York Rangers 

After a rested Penguins team completely controlled their game against the Montreal Canadiens and still lost, despite the Canadiens being on the second-half of a back-to-back set, you might imagine there are some bitter feelings. They beat the Rangers on Sunday in overtime, and will be looking to do the same thing at Madison Square Garden on Thursday in their second of three games against the Rangers this week.

For their part, the Rangers have been a little inconsistent in March, winning four games and losing three, and needing to go to overtime in four of those seven games. The Penguins have also gone to overtime in four of their last seven, so maybe that’s where this one is headed too?