The New York Islanders will be after their first points of 2013 when they play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning this evening. Tampa have a ton of scoring potential and put up six goals in their opener, but they were terrible defensively on the road last year. Although they have upgraded on the blueline and in goal, it's unlikely that coach Guy Boucher has found the right balance immediately. The Isles are a better team than they're given credit for in my opinion, especially when John Tavares gets going. Back a home win at an attractive 2.65 and Tavares to score at least one goal at 3.00.
It was a fantastic start on Saturday for St Louis, who romped to a 6-0 win against Detroit, looking every inch a Stanley Cup competitor. It included two beautiful goals on debut for Vladimir Tarasenko, a pure scorer who gives their offence another dimension. Meanwhile, Nashville dropped to a disappointing shootout loss at home to Columbus, which won't have banished fears that they will miss Ryan Suter, who departed in the off season. Expect another close one here as the Predators up their game, though I still think the Blues nick this in overtime at 1.88 after a low-scoring game.
Northeast division rivals the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs will be looking to keep their positive starts going when they meet tonight. As with St Louis/Nashville, any divisional game has huge value in this shortened and intensified season even this early on, so it will be loud inside the Air Canada Centre. Buffalo have momentum from their impressive 5-2 victory over Philadelphia yesterday but there will surely be a slight loss of intensity playing on consecutive nights. It should be the Leafs who stay unbeaten at 2.30.
Best bet: St Louis Blues to win including OT at 1.88