Content provided by Associated Press. Picks by Covers.com staff.
Buffalo Sabres at Chicago Blackhawks (-165, 6)
Chicago (23-10-7) is amongst the leaders in goal differential (+40), and has had no trouble winning games in a blowout fashion. It's the tight games that has caused problems.
After losing back-to-back close games on the road, the Blackhawks completed a home-and-home series with Nashville with a 3-1 win on Sunday at the United Center. Chicago led by just a goal until Martin Havlat scored his 12th of the season on a empty netter with 10 seconds remaining.
"We accomplished what we needed to," said goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of hits last eight appearances. "We're not going to score four, five goals in every one. We have to know how to win when we score two."
Khabibulin had another stellar performance in Chicago, as he stopped 26 shots to improve to 7-0-3 with a 1.87 goals-against average at home on the season.
The Blackhawks have outscored their opponents 29-8 in winning their last seven games at the United Center since a 6-5 loss to San Jose on Nov. 16 - their only regulation loss there all season. Chicago, which lost to Detroit 6-4 at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day, is 13-2-4 at home overall.
Despite a 3-1 loss in Detroit on Saturday, Buffalo is 5-2-1 on the road since Dec. 6. The Sabres are also among the league leaders in power-play percentage on the road (24.3) and penalty killing percentage on the road (89.9).
"We've had some good games on the road. We have to keep that up, we have to go into another team's building and stick to a game plan," goalie Ryan Miller said. "You have to be patient, you have to let the other team try to entertain the crowd, and we have to stick to the game plan and stick together."
Miller has been under a lot of pressure lately, making 45 saves Saturday after stopping 43 shots in Friday's 2-1 shootout win over the New York Rangers. He made 26 saves in last season's 3-1 win over the Blackhawks, and is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA all-time versus them.
Detroit Red Wings at Anaheim Ducks (+135, 5.5)
Central Division-leading Detroit (29-7-6) is coming off one of its worst defensive games of the season, losing 5-4 in overtime at Dallas Monday. It was the Red Wings' first defeat since losing 4-3 in a shootout with Colorado on Dec. 27.
Lack of scoring wasn't the problem for Detroit, which made do even though Henrik Zetterberg was held off the scoresheet. He had a five-game point streak (two goals, six assists) end, but he failed to find the back of the net for the 11th time in 13 games.
The veteran center had 10 goals in his first 13 games, but has 16 on the season after scoring a career-high 43 times in 2007-08.
A two-goal effort in a 5-4 overtime loss at Anaheim (22-17-5) on Oct. 29 was part of Zetterberg's early season surge. He has eight goals and five assists in his last 11 games versus the Ducks.
The Red Wings were outshot 49-30 by the Stars in the second stop of a five-game road trip that takes them into the All-Star break. Detroit gave up 23 shots in the second period, the most it has allowed in one period since Columbus had 23 in the opening period of a 2-1 Red Wings win on Nov. 21, 2001.
Still, the Red Wings were able to pick up a point thanks partly to some outstanding saves from Chris Osgood, who stopped a season-high 44 shots. Osgood has started both of Detroit's games against the Ducks this season, going 1-0-1 with a 2.96 goals-against average, and is 13-3-1 with two ties and a 2.55 GAA all-time against them.
Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, meanwhile, got a much-needed boost Sunday night, making 18 saves in the Ducks' 4-3 victory over New Jersey for his first win since Dec. 14. Giguere was benched Thursday night in Los Angeles after allowing three goals in the first 21 minutes.
The Ducks gave up four goals in each of their previous two games, losing both.
Against the Devils, Anaheim was clicking on offense. Chris Kunitz scored twice in the third period, giving him 11 goals on the season.
Corey Perry assisted on both of Kunitz's goals, making a quick contribution in his return after a four-game suspension for elbowing Philadelphia's Claude Giroux in the head Jan. 2. The Ducks were 2-2-0 in Perry's absence and had won just three of their last 10 games before facing New Jersey.