Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#161 New Jersey Devils vs.
#162 Pittsburgh Penguins
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 7:05pm EDT
PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s a pair of teams from the Central Division with opposite situations in regards to the playoff picture down in the Sunshine State. The Columbus Blue Jackets are on the road as they travel to face the Florida Panthers Tuesday night in the second game of a two-game set. These teams were scheduled to meet on Monday night in the first game of the two-game set. Columbus was swept in a two-game set against Dallas on the road, losing 5-1 Saturday night in their most recent contest. Florida split a two-game road set with Tampa Bay as they earned a 5-3 victory on Saturday night in the second game of the set. In the season series, the Panthers own a 5-0-1 advantage between the teams, including a 3-0 home victory in the most recent matchup on April 4.

Columbus Blue Jackets Hoping to Play Spoiler

Columbus suffered their fifth straight loss and their 11th defeat in the last 13 games as they were shut down by Dallas on the road Saturday. The Blue Jackets entered Monday seventh in the Central Division, 23 points behind the Hurricanes for the division lead. In the playoff race, the team stood 10 points behind Nashville for the final playoff spot. Columbus is 28th in the league in goals for as they average 2.43 goals per contest. The Blue Jackets are 26th in goals against as they allow 3.28 goals a night on the year. Columbus stands 28th in the league in power-play success as they successfully convert on 13.7% of their chances with the man advantage. The Blue Jackets are 19th in penalty killing as they successfully get through 78.6% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In Saturday’s game, Columbus struggled offensively again, posting just one goal for the second straight game as they were dumped by Dallas. The opening period saw the Blue Jackets outshot 11-9 but they went to the dressing room with the score even at one after 20 minutes of play. Vladislav Gavrikov opened the scoring with his second of the year at 6:06 off assists from Cam Atkinson and Oliver Bjorkstrand. The Blue Jackets gave up the equalizer later in the period. In the second period, Columbus was outshot 8-6 but more crucially, outscored 4-0 to trail 5-1 after two periods of play. The third period saw the Blue Jackets outshot by a 13-7 margin with neither side lighting the lamp, leaving the score the same as time expired. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 12 of 16 shots before getting pulled at the 13:34 mark of the second period. Elvis Merzlikins stopped 15 of 16 in relief for Columbus, who were outshot 32-22 in the game. Merzlikins is expected to get the start in goal in this contest.

Florida Panthers Chasing Top Spot in Central Division

Florida bounced back from a loss to Tampa Bay in the first game of their two-game set by winning the second game to earn a split. The Panthers entered Monday night second in the Central Division, one point behind Carolina for the top spot. They stood 14 points clear of fifth-place Chicago to stay in the playoff picture. Florida stands tied for 10th in the league in scoring with 3.16 goals per game this season. The Panthers are 12th in goals against by allowing 2.69 goals per contest. Florida is tied for 11th in the league in power-play success as they have converted 21.9% of their chances with the man advantage. The Panthers stand 14th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 80% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay, the Panthers put together a solid offensive showing and skated off with a victory. The opening period saw Florida outshot 15-11 but they took a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard to the dressing room after 20 minutes of play. Brandon Montour opened the scoring with his sixth of the year at 8:41 off assists from Sam Bennett. Patric Hornqvist extended to a 2-0 advantage with his 14th of the season, on the power play, at 12:31 off assists from Nikita Gusev and Aleksander Barkov. After giving up a goal to trim their lead to 2-1, Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 15th of the season at 19:52 off assists from Markus Nutivaara and Bennett to restore their two-goal lead. In the second period, the Panthers held an 11-7 edge in shots on goal with both teams scoring once, leaving Florida ahead 4-2 after 40 minutes. Frank Vatrano made it a 4-1 game with his 15th of the season, unassisted, at the 17:34 mark. The Panthers gave up a goal in the final minute of the period to cut the lead to two goals. In the third period, Florida held a 10-9 edge in shots on goal with both teams scoring once, leaving the Panthers with that two-goal edge at the final horn. After Tampa Bay cut the Florida lead to one goal, Anthony Duclair hit the empty net for his sixth of the year, off an assist from Radko Gudas, at 19:10 to put the game away. Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves for the Panthers, who outshot the Lightning 32-31, in the victory. He’s expected to get the start in goal again here.

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Columbus has really fallen apart since the trade deadline as they dealt away several key contributors in hopes of reloading for the future. The Blue Jackets have their work cut out for them the rest of the season as they try to play spoiler. Florida has played well and some of their deadline acquisitions, like Montour and Bennett, have paid immediate dividends. The Panthers are at home, where they have gone 14-4-2-1 this season, and they know that every point is valuable seeing that Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay are separated by just two points entering Monday night. This is a prime chance for the Panthers to pick up two points and they take advantage here to get the win.

Prediction: Florida Panthers -1.5 (+115)

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Columbus has seen the under go 23-20-3 in their contests this season. The Blue Jackets have an average total of 5.72 goals a night on the season. That number shifts downward to only 5.17 goals per game as the road team this season. Florida has seen the under go 22-20-3 on the year coming into this contest. The Panthers have posted an average total of 5.84 goals per game on the season to this point. Florida sees that number drop to 5.48 goals a game when they are the home team on the year. The six previous meetings this season have produced seven, five, six, nine, seven and three goals. With the way Columbus isn’t scoring right now and the Panthers’ success at stymying teams at home (2.38 goals per game against), this one ends up short of the total.

Prediction: Under 5.5
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

Bio Coming soon!