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Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (January 3rd, 2022)

By Hank Blaine

The NHL’s Winter Classic went off without a hitch on Saturday as the St. Louis Blues won 6-4 at the Minnesota Wild in the coldest outdoor game in league history. The official faceoff temperature at Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins, was minus-5.7 degrees. Of the 33 outdoor games the league has played, it was the first in subzero temperatures. That doesn’t mean outdoor games are done for this year, though, as there are a few more. The next is the Stadium Series matchup between the Lightning and Predators from Nashville on Feb. 26. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week matchups around the league.

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Edmonton Oilers vs. New York Rangers

  • When: Monday, January 3rd, 2022. 7:00pm ET
  • Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
  • Radio: ESPN 101 FM (Oilers) // 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio (Rangers)
  • Live Stream: NHL Live
  • NHL Betting Odds: Edmonton Oilers -130

This is the only game on the schedule Monday Hurricanes-Maple Leafs and Wild-Senators have been postponed. Edmonton enters on a three-game skid, losing 3-2 in overtime at the Islanders on Saturday. Mikko Koskinen stopped 26 of 29 shots.

Koskinen has allowed at least three goals in each of his last five starts. He has a 12-6-1 record, 3.14 GAA, and .902 save percentage in 19 contests this season. It will have to be him here because No. 1 Mike Smith, who just recently came back from time on the injured list, was hurt Friday again. The 39-year-old struggled in both starts since returning and allowed a combined 10 goals.

In addition, top forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury and will not play here. Nugent-Hopkins has three goals and 25 points in 28 contests. The goals total is low but the former 4-time 20-goal scorer has as shooting percentage of just 4.2 percent right now compared to 11.6 percent career. Nugent-Hopkins is a lock on the top power play, tied for fifth-most in the league in power-play points and part of the best power play in the league over the past few seasons.

It’s the second of a back-to-back for New York as it beat Tampa Bay 4-0 on Sunday. Mika Zibanejad scored a hat trick. Zibanejad scored a pair of power-play goals in the first period and completed his three-goal performance at the 16:53 mark of the second stanza. He has registered four multi-point efforts in the past five games. Zibanejad is up to 11 goals and 30 points in 33 games this season. Chris Kreider had three assists to reach 30 points on the year.

Igor Shesterkin posted a 38-save shutout. He was outstanding on Sunday, especially in the first period when he stopped 18 shots. Shesterkin helped his team take a 3-0 lead into the first intermission. He has a 15-4-2 record on the season. However, it probably will be No. 2 Alexander Georgiev (5-3-2, 2.87 GAA) in this one.

Star forward Artemi Panarin landed in COVID protocols before Sunday’s game. Panarin, who leads the Blueshirts with 36 points (10-26), will miss at least the next three games under current protocols. Fellow forward Kevin Rooney is also in them.

New York lost in Edmonton 6-5 in OT on Nov. 5. Leon Draisaitl scored the overtime winner. Jesse Puljujarvi scored twice for Edmonton, which also got goals from Zach Hyman, Tyson Barrie and Connor McDavid. Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen stopped 20 of 25 shots in the victory.

NHL Betting Pick: Rangers

St. Louis Blues vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

  • When: Wednesday, January 5th, 2022. 7:00pm ET
  • Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: TSN 690 Montreal (Blues) // 970 WFLA AM (Penguins)
  • Live Stream: NHL Live
  • NHL Betting Odds: TBA

Pittsburgh was an 8-5 winner vs. San Jose on Sunday and that was notable because Evan Rodrigues Bryan and Rust both finished off hat tricks in the third period for the Pens’ eighth straight win — and first since Dec. 19. It was the first time the Penguins had two hat tricks in a single game since Dec. 11, 2008. Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis combined for six goals on that night.

Casey DeSmith made 22 saves for Pittsburgh in place of starter Tristan Jarry, who is one of four Penguins in COVID-19 protocols. Pittsburgh hadn’t played since Dec. 19.

Kasper Bjorkqvist scored his first NHL goal and Jake Guentzel his 16th of the season for the Penguins, who have won eight or more games consecutively for the 11th time in franchise history. It’s the first time Pittsburgh has won eight straight since the 2018-19 season.

St. Louis won its second in a row Saturday in taking down the Wild 6-4 in the Winter Classic. Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists in a five-goal second period. David Perron got the Blues on the board in the first period. Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev and Torey Krug joined Kyrou by scoring in the second, and Robert Thomas pitched in with two assists. Jordan Binnington made 29 saves for the Blues.

In two starts since coming back from the pandemic pause, Binnington has now allowed six total goals. For the overall season, Kyrou has now scored 12 goals to go with 32 total points across 29 games played. He is just three points shy of matching his 55-game point total for the 2020-21 campaign. Top center Brayden Schenn didn’t play Saturday after being a game-time call. He hasn’t played since Dec. 12.

This is the first meeting of the season between the Blues and Penguins.

NHL Betting Pick: Penguins

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READ MORE: Top NHL Betting Picks of the Week (January 10th, 2022)