The New Jersey Devils finally ended their dreadful ten-game run with victory on Thursday but the damage to their post-season hopes was already done. They have an excellent chance to add to that win, though. They host the bottom-of-the-NHL Florida Panthers, who have conceded 21 goals in the last four games. Florida's powerplay constantly tries to redeem their terrible five-on-five work, which has seen the Panthers concede almost twice as many as they've scored. Back New Jersey with a -1.5 handicap at 2.45.
In the battle of Ontario, Ottawa could leapfrog provincial rivals Toronto into fifth if they beat the Maple Leafs tonight. Momentum is with the Senators on the back of four straight wins but Toronto have taken three of the four contests in 2013. Had injuries not cursed this Ottawa team you wonder how many more points they might have. Certainly if goalie Craig Anderson had been healthy all year they'd be challenging for the Northeast Division title. Now he's back they are confident again but the way they've dealt with the absences of Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson has been admirable. Back Ottawa to win and almost guarantee their play-off presence at 2.30.
At the moment the play-offs are slipping through the Detroit Red Wings' fingers: they have an extra game to put things right but are in the worst form of all the clubs in the mix. A momentum-turning result is needed against the Vancouver Canucks, against whom they have an excellent record in recent seasons. The ice has been tilted heavily in Detroit's favour this year too, both of their victories coming by clear margins. Vancouver's home record suggests it won't happen again, but they are all but confirmed qualifiers and may not have the same intensity. Consider backing the Red Wings with a -1.5 handicap at a tasty 4.95.
Best bet: New Jersey Devils with -1.5 goal handicap at 2.45