NHL Betting: Islanders to triumph in the battle of New York

Montreal and Toronto renew their age-old rivalry tonight. Both have had excellent seasons to this point, but the pressure is off Montreal, who sealed a play-off spot after beating Buffalo on Thursday, regaining their division lead in the process. The Maple Leafs should follow them in due time; only once in the last twelve games have they failed to take at least a point. Offensively, both sides rank within the top five teams, thanks to offensive contributions from everybody in their line-ups. The Air Canada Centre will be rocking and, because they have more to play for, I like Toronto's chances at 2.50.

I'm not sure tonight's battle of New York could be set up much better. The Islanders and Rangers are seventh and eighth in the table, and neither can afford any sort of slip-up. 2004 was the last time the Isles finished above their neighbours, but a repeat is a real possibility this year if they can maintain the form that's seen them win eight of the last ten. On Wednesday they laid down a marker, becoming only the third side to win at Boston in regulation, defending a lead against one of the NHL's best teams without ever being particularly troubled. Whilst the Rangers are also in good form and moving up, the Islanders are good value at 2.55.

Closing it out on the West Coast, the Los Angeles Kings face the Anaheim Ducks, another side already assured of a post-season place. Two points for the Ducks would pretty much seal the Pacific, but they're unlikely to move up or down from second place whatever happens. All three contests this season have been won by the home side, so back the Kings with a -1.5 handicap at 3.00. They've also been high-scoring affairs, so over 5.5 total goals at 2.30 is also a good pick.

Best bet: New York Islanders to win at 2.55