The Colorado Avalanche (38-22-6) play the 3rd contest in a 4-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators (33-30-4) on Thursday at Canadian Tire Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET (ESPN+).
The Avalanche opened the road trip by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 8-4 Monday and topping the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout Wednesday.
The Senators have dropped the past 3 outings by a combined score of 16-6, as goaltending and defense have been an issue. The losses come at a critical time, too, as Ottawa is just 8 points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 15 regular-season games remaining.
Ottawa suffered a 7-0 defeat in the first meeting in Denver on Jan. 14, as Avs backup G Pavel Francouz stopped all 29 shots he faced, while Colorado’s LW Artturi Lehkonen, C Alex Newhook and RW Mikko Rantanen each registered 2 goals. The Sens won’t have to deal with Lehkonen, as he is sidelined at least a month with a broken finger.
Avalanche at Senators odds
- Moneyline (ML): Avalanche -140 (bet $140 to win $100) | Senators +120 (bet $100 to win $120)
- Puck line (PL)/Against the spread (ATS): Avalanche -1.5 (+165) | Senators +1.5 (-200)
- Over/Under (O/U): 6.5 (O: -130 | U: +110)
Avalanche at Senators projected goalies
Justus Annunen (1-1-0, 3.58 GAA, .854 SV%) vs Mads Sogaard (5-3-1, 3.28 GAA, .888 SV%)
With Alexandar Georgiev tasked with starting the front end of the back-to-back set in Toronto Wednesday, Annunen is expected to start Thursday. The Finnish backup, getting a chance while Francouz is down with a lower-body injury, stopped 19 of 20 shots for a win in his season debut in St. Louis on Feb. 18. He wasn’t as fortunate last time out against New Jersey on March 1, coughing up 6 goals on 28 shots.
Sogaard turned aside just 27 of the 32 shots he faced against the Edmonton Oilers last time out on Tuesday. He has allowed 4 or more goals in each of his past 4 outings, going 1-3-0 with a 4.52 GAA and .843 SV% in 4 March starts.
Avalanche at Senators picks and predictions
Avalanche 5, Senators 3
The AVALANCHE (-140) are actually a surprisingly low moneyline play. It might be due to the back-to-back situation, or because the Avs are likely to use a backup goaltender, but this is a Colorado team that manhandled the Senators in the first meeting by a touchdown.
Colorado is also 19-7 in its last 26 games when playing on no rest and is 6-1 in its last 7 road games.
The Sens have dropped 4 of the past 5 games, are 1-4 in their past 5 against Western Conference foes and 17-35 in the past 52 tries against winning teams.
Puck line/Against the spread
The AVALANCHE -1.5 (+165) at plus money is worth playing lightly.
While it’s a difficult turnaround playing on no rest and Colorado may have to have an unproven rookie in the cage, the Sens are rolling out Sogaard and he’s been very giving.
The OVER 6.5 (-130) is the best play on the board in a possible matchup of 2 unproven and shaky goaltenders.
The Avs might have some heavy legs after skating in Toronto less than 24 hours ago, leading to some defensive lapses.
The Over is 4-1 in the past 5 against Eastern Conference teams, with the Under cashing Wednesday in Toronto. The Over is also 7-2 in the past 9 against Atlantic Division teams. The Avs took care of the Over on their own against the Sens in the first meeting, too.
The Over is 5-2 in the past 7 meetings in Canada’s capital city while cashing at a 16-5 clip in the past 21 in this series.