Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers (149, 5.5)
With goalie Semyon Varlamov suffering a knee injury that will keep him out for up to 10 days, the Capitals will be forced to turn to Michal Neuvirth full-time. But that might not be so bad.
Neuvirth has given up a mere five goals over his past three starts, winning them all. Over that span, he has a sparkling .943 save percentage and an equally stellar 1.67 goals-against average. Before the injury to Varlamov the duo has split time, but now with the recent play of Neuvirth, it appears the youngster has the opportunity to seize the No. 1 spot.
"It's been a big opportunity for me playing every game, and that's what I like," Neuvirth said. "We've got a tough schedule ahead of us but I think I can handle it."
And it’s not like the Panthers have been scoring a lot of goals.
Florida has just six goals over its past six games and is a mere 1-5 over that span. Not surprisingly, the team has converted only one of its past 20 chances on the man advantage. Overall, the Panthers are averaging a mere 2.4 goals per game, the 28th lowest total in the league.
"We’re professionals here, and it doesn’t matter what place you are in," Florida defenseman Mike Weaver said. "We have some new faces and bodies. We just have to work hard, outwork the other team."
Nashville Predators at Calgary Flames (-135, 5)
Three weeks. That’s how long it’s been since the Predators cracked the three-goal mark. Over that span, the team is just 3-6 and has notched a pathetic 15 goals. One of the players taking the most heat over this drought is Swedish forward Patric Hornqvist.
The dynamic skater has 18 goals this year but has lit the lamp only three times over his past 19 games. Nashville is hoping a recent score against Vancouver will shake him out of his funk.
"Some guys in here have to step up and I am one of those guys who has to score some goals," Hornqvist said. "Of course you want to score, no question about it. As long as you get chances, the goals are going to come."
But the goals have come in spades lately for Calgary. The Flames are continuing to be white hot with their wide-open style, notching 14 goals in their past three games. During that stretch, Jerome Iginla (4 goals, 3 assists) and Renee Bourque (3 goals, 2 assists) have been nearly unstoppable in the offensive zone.
"This year," Iginla said, "especially in the last 30 games or two months or so — we've felt like whatever the score is we can come back."