NHL picks, bets today: Latest lines for Rangers at Penguins, Panthers at Capitals and more

After losing series openers at home, the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers bounced back with convincing wins and five-goal performances. Now, those two teams hit the road on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Dallas got a road win in Calgary in what has been an incredibly low-scoring series so far. Through two games the two teams have combined for three goals. Then there’s the Stanley Cup favored Colorado Avalanche, which lead 2-0 against the Nashville Predators.

Saturday’s NHL Playoffs schedule:

  • Game 3: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals – 1 pm ET – ESPN, SN
  • Game 3: Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators – 4:30 pm ET – TNT, SN
  • Game 3: New York Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins – 7 pm ET – TNT, CBC, SN
  • Game 3: Calgary Flames at Dallas Stars – 9:30 pm ET – TNT, CBC, SN

Every day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Athletic’s writers will make their picks, straight up. We put our picks, the TV schedule and all series coverage, plus the latest odds, all in one place for fans to easily digest and follow. Our in-depth NHL coverage is linked below the picks. For live NHL odds from BetMGM, click here.

Panthers at Capitals

Team Moneyline Total

-190

O 6.5 (-130)

+155

U 6.5 (+105)

Game 2: Panthers 5, Capitals 1 | Series tied 1-1

What was the key? That very sequence. Coming off their Game 1 win, Washington once again frustrated the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first period. But that late-period burst from the Panthers’ big guns put Florida in control.

Key stat: Vitek Vanecek allowed 3.48 goals above expected in his two periods of work, according to Evolving Hockey. The weird bounce on the Aaron Ekblad goal surely plays into that – and it’s certainly hard to blame Vanecek for it – but that’s a big number for 40 minutes of work.

The moment of the game: While the two late-first period goals technically gave the Panthers everything they’d ultimately need, the Capitals did threaten to claw their way back into the game with a power-play goal early in the second period to make it 2-1. But less than 30 seconds after that, Anton Lundell secured a defensive-zone takeaway and led the rush up ice, leading to a huge answer by Mason Marchment. It grabbed all the momentum right back for the Panthers.

– Max Bultman

Writer Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Jesse Granger

Kevin Kurz

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman


Avalanche at Predators

Team Moneyline Total

-225

O 6.5 (-115)

+185

U 6.5 (-105)

Game 2: Avalanche 2, Predators 1 (OT) | Colorado leads 2-0

Who was the guy? Cale Makar’s breakthrough was inevitable long before his actual OT winner. He was closer to an NBA guard than he was an NHL defenseman with his shot volume, putting up a whopping 20 shot attempts. The offensive zone was like an open race track for him, with no opponent or obstacle in sight to slow him down. Connor Ingram was sensational, the only reason Nashville was in this game, but Makar was relentless and the dam eventually had to break.

What was the key? Colorado’s top players have shown up to play and Nashville’s not. Makar is playing like he wants to be crowned the best defenseman in the NHL. Nathan MacKinnon already has three goals and four points in this series. The Preds were never going to have the depth to match Colorado, but their top-end talent has disappointingly been silent. Filip Forsberg is pointless. Roman Josi has just a single point in this series to go along with paltry 5-on-5 play-driving numbers. Ryan Johansen has disappeared.

Key stat: Colorado had 21 shots on goal just with Makar on the ice at 5-on-5. Nashville had 21 shots total at 5-on-5 in the game. That pretty much sums up how anemic Nashville’s offensive performance was. The scoreline was close, but the play was not – Ingram’s valiant effort was the only reason this contest got to OT in the first place.

– Harman Dayal

Writer Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Jesse Granger

Kevin Kurz

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman


Rangers at Penguins

Team Moneyline Total

-120

O 6 (+100)

+100

U 6 (-120)

Game 2: Rangers 5, Penguins 2 | Series tied 1-1

Who was the guy? The same guy it always is. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Two nights after making 79 saves in a triple-overtime loss, Shesterkin was as spectacular as ever, making 39 saves in Game 2 as the Rangers evened the series. Bonus points for magically coming back to life 30 seconds after apparently being murdered by Jeff Carter late in the third period, even drawing two penalties in the process. Give him the Hart, the Conn Smythe, the Oscar, and – most prestigious of all – the Playoffs Daily Guy Of The Game.

Key stat: From midway through the first period of Game 1 through the 1:05 mark of the second period in Game 2 – with triple-overtime in between – the Penguins went 118 minutes and five seconds without having a penalty called against them. Pittsburgh fans will tell you it’s because they’re such an incredibly well-disciplined, skill-based team that would never dare look askance at another player, let alone resort to any malfeasance or skullduggery. Rangers fans will tell you it’s because the league is obviously trying to eliminate the (checks notes) largest market in North America in favor of a city of 302,205 residents. Fun fact: They’re both 100 percent correct. I read it on the Internet.

Penguins worry meter: Sp 😬 😬 A split at the Garden is good. But they need Tristan Jarry’s foot to heal in a hurry.

Rangers worry meter: Never 🙃 You never want to yield home ice in a series, and giving up 88 shots in six regulation periods is a huge concern – unless you have Shesterkin, that is.

– Mark Lazerus

Writer Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Jesse Granger

Kevin Kurz

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman


Flames at Stars

Team Moneyline Total

-160

O 5.5 (+105)

+135

U 5.5 (-130)

Game 2: Stars 2, Flames 0 | Series tied 1-1

Who was the guy? Here’s who the guy was not – me. I was not the guy. On Thursday morning, I volunteered to write this one up. Pretty sure Preds-Avs was on the board, but I picked this anyway. It wasn’t the biggest mistake I’ve made in the last calendar year, but it’s on the list. I unwittingly locked myself into watching, no joke, one of the worst playoff hockey games I can remember. When it was finally over and I got to flip over to Avs-Preds, I almost fainted, like a scuba diver who ascends too quickly. My body and brain were not prepared for the contrast.

Anyway, Jake Oettinger was good. The Stars’ “grind opponents and viewers into dust” philosophy only leads to wins when the goalie is on point, and Oettinger was. Sure, he stopped all 29 of Calgary’s shots and faced 10 high-danger chances, but you can only save what they put in front of you. Oettinger has been solid in both games, really; 54 stops on 55 shots (.982), 14 high-danger saves and a goals saved above expected of 3.06.

What was the key? Now, here’s where we slag on the Flames a little bit; in terms of quality, they’re generating next to nothing. Too many of their attempts come from the perimeter, and a disproportionate number do not make it to Oettinger in the first place. This is one of the very best offensive teams in the NHL. It was, at least. If they’re having an existential crisis over that game, they aren’t alone. I should’ve just been an electrician. There is still time.

Key stat: 27. That’s how many years this game set the game back. Hello, Jacques Lemaire.

– Sean Gentille

Writer Pick

Dom Luszczyszyn

Jesse Granger

Kevin Kurz

Sean Gentille

Sean McIndoe

Shayna Goldman


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(Photo of Igor Shesterkin and Mark Friedman: Jared Silber / NHLI via Getty Images)

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