NHL Best Bets Tonight: 5 Expert Picks and Predictions (Thursday, February 22)

NHL Best Bets Tonight: 5 Expert Picks and Predictions (Thursday, February 22) article feature image

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Fiala #22 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings

Check out our NHL best bets tonight for Thursday, February 20 – our top hockey picks and predictions.

The Action Network's NHL experts have compiled their picks and predictions for tonight's big 11-game slate on ESPN and ESPN+, which we've also covered extensively with our individual NHL game guides.

However, for our NHL best bets tonight, we're targeting five games with a moneyline, a puck line, a total and two player props, including an anytime goalscorer pick.

Want some NHL action tonight? Below, check out and tail along with our experts' NHL best bets for tonight.

(NHL bettors: Sign up and use our bet365 promo code TANBONUS for all of your hockey action.)

NHL Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our NHL betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
7 p.m.
7 p.m.
7 p.m.
10 p.m.
10:30 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NHL Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Senators vs. Stars

Thursday, February 22
7 p.m. ET
Tim Stutzle Anytime Goalscorer (+240)

By Grant White

Tim Stutzle is getting no love in Thursday's inter-conference affair between the Ottawa Senators and Dallas Stars.

Despite riding a three-game goalscoring streak, Stutzle is priced at an appealing +240 in the anytime goalscorer market at FanDuel. I like him to keep his streak going against the Stars.

Stutzle may have fallen off of last year's pace, but he's still delivering above-average metrics. So far this season, he ranks fourth on the Sens in expected goals-for percentage across all strengths, posting a robust 58.5% benchmark. As expected, that correlates with elite offensive production, with Stutzle sitting second on the team in scoring chances and third in high-danger opportunities.

Despite the ongoing analytics success, Stutzle's traditional stats have taken a significant hit. His shooting percentage has dipped to a career-worst 9.9%, below his previous high of 17.1% and average of 13.3%. Moreover, his 14 goals in 53 games put Stutzle on track for his worst total since his rookie campaign.

Nevertheless, Stutzle's recent performances are a sign of things to come. He remains 6.0% below his expected goals-for rating, with a sub-optimal 0.980 PDO. Considering his sustained on-ice success, Stutzle is a progression candidate as his stats catch up with expected metrics.

Pick: Tim Stutzle Anytime Goalscorer (+240)

Senators vs. Stars

Thursday, February 22
7 p.m. ET
Stars -1.5/Puck Line (+155)

By Greg Liodice

After crushing the spirits of the Predators last week by a score of 9-2, the Dallas Stars are feeling a little heat right now. In an ever-changing Central Division, the Stars have dropped three games in a row, including two in overtime.

Their opponents, the Ottawa Senators, are in a similar position, losing three out of their last four games. However, where the Stars lead the Central, the Senators have been a model of inconsistency for years now and are always a volatile option when betting them.

When looking at the numbers, Dallas absolutely obliterates Ottawa in both 5-on-5 and special teams. Not only that, but it has much better goaltending options as well. Jake Oettinger, albeit not his early-season self, is much more of a sure thing than either Joonas Korpisalo or Anton Forsberg.

Since returning from the All-Star break, Dallas is ranked third in expected goals with a 58.96 xGF% whereas the Sens are 16th at 49.82 xGF%.

The KID wanted it, Mush buried it! pic.twitter.com/AYudIEtvGI

— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) February 17, 2024

Defensively, it’s the same, with the Stars placing fifth with a 2.25 xGA/60, and the Sens are at a 2.91.

To top it off, Dallas is in the top 10 in both power play and penalty kill. Ottawa, on the other hand, is in the bottom 10 in both categories, especially the penalty kill ranking 29th.

I think this game goes smoothly in the Stars’ favor. They have one of the better away records, and even though they’ve lost three in a row, they’ve also never had a losing streak more than three games. I’d say that they’re due for a win – and a substantial one at that.

Pick: Stars -1.5/Puck Line (+155)

Capitals vs. Lightning

Thursday, February 22
7 p.m. ET
Under 6.5 (-112)

By Nicholas Martin

If the Capitals are to upset the Lightning and steal this game inside of regulation, they would be only five points back of Tampa in the wild-card race, with three games in hand. Considering their -32 goal differential, that's a minor miracle, and most oddsmakers still offer them a less than 10% chance of sneaking in.

What the Capitals have done effectively is find ways to grind out single-goal victories behind well-structured defensive play. They rank 30th league-wide with a 2.48 goals for per game average though, and they have limited offensive star power at this point.

Recent high-scoring performances like we saw versus the Devils Tuesday are more likely to be outliers than any sort of consistent trend. At its core, coach Spencer Carbery's team will need to win games with strong goaltending and quality defensive play.

The way that the Capitals performed in recent games against Boston, Vancouver and Florida is the type of game we can expect tonight. This spot should lend itself to a tight-checking nailbiter, and I believe that with Charlie Lindgren in goal, the Caps' can keep the Lightning's potent offense at bay.

Charlie Lindgren has played to a +9.0 GSAx and .915 save % in 25 appearances this season.

The Lightning have allowed a 12th-best xGA/60 rating of 3.08 recently, and they have really only been exposed on that front by elite offenses of late. They should be able to keep the Capitals to a modest total as well.

Due to the recent totals of trends of these two sides, we are getting the Under 6.5 at good price of -112. This spot makes for a good under bet though, and anything better than -130 is a play for me.

Pick: Under 6.5 (-112)

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Maple Leafs vs. Golden Knights

Thursday, February 22
10 p.m. ET
Maple Leafs (+102)

By Ryan Dadoun

The Maple Leafs are on a season-best five-game winning streak and have claimed nine of their last 11 contests. On top of that, they’ll get back Morgan Rielly, who has completed his five-game suspension, on Thursday. So, while this will be the Maple Leafs’ third road contest in four days, I believe they will keep rolling.

Part of that has to do with just how dominant Toronto has been in those victories. The Maple Leafs have outscored their adversaries 19-7 over their last three games alone. Auston Matthews, who is fantastic under normal circumstances, is dialed in with an unreal nine goals and 12 points over his past four contests, bringing him up to 51 markers through 54 games overall.

Toronto’s also getting some secondary scoring from an unexpected source in Bobby McMann. The 27-year-old has collected seven goals and nine points across his past five outings.

Additionally, while this game will be played in Vegas, that’s not necessarily a drawback for Toronto. The Maple Leafs are 16-6-6 on the road compared to 15-10-2 at home. The Golden Knights do typically excel in Vegas, posting a 19-8-2 record, but they’ve shown vulnerability there, dropping their last three home contests.

Making matters more difficult for the Golden Knights, Mark Stone suffered an upper-body injury Tuesday and isn’t expected to play Thursday. He’s joining Jack Eichel (knee) on the shelf, meaning Vegas will attempt to match the Maple Leafs’ high-powered offense without two of its best forwards.

The Golden Knights might hope goaltender Adin, who has a 14-5-2 record, 2.15 GAA and .929 save percentage through 22 outings this year, might make the difference. However, the typically elite goaltender has allowed 11 goals on 95 shots (.884 save percentage) over his past three starts, so he might not be in the best mindset to handle Toronto at this time.

This is looking like a perfect storm for the Maple Leafs to pick up two points on a night where they might have otherwise been pegged to lose.

I'd play this one down to -105.

Pick: Maple Leafs (+102)

Predators vs. Kings

Thursday, February 22
10:30 p.m. ET
Kevin Fiala Anytime Goalscorer (+220)

By Tony Sartori

Thursday's NHL nightcap features a Western Conference tilt with the Los Angeles Kings hosting the Nashville Predators. For this matchup, I want to target a Nashville blue line that ranks 20th or lower in goals allowed per game, shots on goal per game, penalty kill percentage and penalty minutes taken per game.

The reason for these poor rankings is that the Preds allow high-danger scoring chances at a high level, ranking in the bottom half of the league in expected goals against per 60 minutes (xGA/60) at 5-on-5. Backing up this defensively poor team is goaltender Juuse Saros, who has struggled to deal with the poor product in front of him.

Through 44 starts this season, Saros is 21-21-2 with a .902 SV% and 3.02 GAA. He has now allowed three or more goals in five of his past six starts, posting a 2-3-1 record with a .895 SV% and 3.72 GAA over that stretch.

This all bodes well for Kevin Fiala, who will go against his former team on Thursday evening. Fiala scored against his former team the last time out, and he has now posted five goals against them in his young career.

He is also tied for second on the team in power-play goals scored this season, which could present a problem for Nashville in this matchup given the aforementioned variables.

Let's play this one down to +190.

Pick: Kevin Fiala Anytime Goalscorer (+220)

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