NHL Best Bets Tonight: 5 Expert Picks and Predictions (Thursday, February 29)

NHL Best Bets Tonight: 5 Expert Picks and Predictions (Thursday, February 29) article feature image

Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Quinton Byfield #55 of the Los Angeles Kings

Check out our NHL best bets tonight for Thursday, February 29 – our top hockey picks and predictions.

The Action Network's NHL experts have studied tonight's 12-game slate on ESPN and ESPN+, which we've also covered extensively with our individual NHL game previews.

For our NHL best bets tonight, we're targeting five games with two totals, two anytime goalscorers, and even a bet on a regulation tie.

Below, check out and tail along with our experts' NHL best bets tonight.

(NHL bettors: Sign up and use our bet365 promo code TANBONUS to get the most out of 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.
8 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.

Islanders vs. Red Wings

Thursday, Feb. 29
7 p.m. ET
Pierre Engvall Anytime Goalscorer (+440)

By Greg Liodice

In his five-year career, Pierre Engvall has sort of a polarizing reputation. From his time in Toronto, many clamored for the day that the potential he has will finally click. Then he was traded to the New York Islanders, performed well, and signed a shiny seven-year deal.

The problem with Engvall is his inconsistencies can be maddening for fans of the teams he plays for. Here you have a 6-foot-5 forward with blazing speed and a wicked shot, and the best he can do is 35 points?

Regardless, the analytics love the guy. This month, he’s sixth in Corsi, second in expected goals, and leads the team in high-danger chances. On top of that, he’s managed a decent PDO.

All those advanced stats have led to just one goal and three assists – with the one goal coming on the first game back from break. Purely astounding numbers for someone who does a solid job making his presence known.

The Islanders come into Detroit to face the red-hot Red Wings, who have won six in a row, including a devastating 8-3 blow to the Capitals on Tuesday. Detroit has played well defensively this month with a 12th-best 3.24 xGA/60, but I can’t get behind the team's goaltending. Alex Lyon has done well since getting called up, but he and Ville Husso are both untrustworthy.

My colleagues on the Line Change podcast are backing the Islanders to pull off the upset, and I have a good feeling about Engvall tonight. At +440, we’re rolling with No. 18.

Pick: Pierre Engvall Anytime Goalscorer (+440)

Sabres vs. Lightning

Thursday, Feb. 29
7 p.m. ET
Tage Thompson Anytime Goalscorer (+230)

By Tony Sartori

There is an Atlantic Division tilt in the early window of Thursday's NHL slate with the Tampa Bay Lightning hosting the Buffalo Sabres. Oddsmakers are expecting a high-scoring affair with the total set at 6.5, which bodes well for targeting a goalscorer prop.

One of the reasons for this high total is that goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy is slated to guard the cage for Tampa, and he has not been the same since his back surgery this past offseason. Through 35 starts this year, Vasilevskiy possesses an .896 SV%.

He enters this matchup in particularly poor form, allowing four or more goals in four of his past five starts. Vasilevskiy is 1-4 with a fade-worthy .853 SV% and 4.44 GAA over that stretch.

That brings us to Tage Thompson, who has been a puck-shooting machine recently. Thompson is averaging 5.2 shots on goal over his past five games, and when you get pucks on net, good things tend to happen, and he has scored twice over that stretch.

One of those two goals came on the power play, which is worth noting because the Bolts rank 28th in the league in penalty minutes taken per game. Finally, Thompson has scored seven goals over his past 11 games against the Lightning.

Pick: Tage Thompson Anytime Goalscorer (+230 at FanDuel)

Jets vs. Stars

Thursday, Feb. 29
8 p.m. ET
Jets-Stars Regulation Tie (+340)

By Grant White

There is a colossal matchup on tonight's NHL docket that could only fit in Texas. The Dallas Stars host the Winnipeg Jets in a battle of Central Division titans.

The hosts have looked ineffective over their recent sample, which could prevent them from running away with this one.

The Stars have looked out of sorts lately. Dallas has just one win over its past seven games, albeit with three of those losses coming in overtime. Consequently, they've given up the division lead to the team they are facing on Thursday night.

Conversely, the Jets have been flying over over their recent sample. Winnipeg has collected wins in seven of its previous eight, leapfrogging the Stars and Colorado Avalanche in the process. However, it's worth noting that two of the Jets' last three wins have come in overtime.

Both teams enter tonight's intra-divisional showdown on pronounced overtime trends. The Stars have sorted things out in extra time in three of seven, with the Jets going over 60 minutes in two of three.

We're not betting against that on Thursday and instead backing this one to get sorted in overtime or a shootout. It's a playable wager at +340 or better.

Pick: Jets-Stars Regulation Tie (+350 at FanDuel)

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Kings vs. Canadiens

Thursday, Feb. 29
10 p.m. ET
Under 6,.5 (-128)

By Nicholas Martin

The Kings should continue trending toward mainly lower-scoring, closely contested hockey as they push for a playoff berth. Despite slightly lesser play of late, they still own the league's sixth-lowest xGA/60 of 2.43 this season, and they were one of the league's best defensive sides last year.

Yes, they lost some key two-way skaters in the disastrous trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois. They still hold a roster packed with accountable defensive skaters, though, and the ability to insulate their goaltenders with quality defensive play is going to be their greatest strength the rest of the way.

Over the last 27 games, the Kings have averaged just 2.37 goals for per game. That's a third of the NHL season that they have scored goals at a third-worst rate.

Aside from the fact that David Rittich or Cam Talbot are not the most high-quality goaltending options, the Kings should trend toward being a pure Under team, and we likely won't see totals of 6.5 in many matchups moving forward.

The Canucks aren't a team that should be an overly high-event opponent moving forward, either. They've too often gotten away from the detailed defensive play that made such a success early this season, but we know Rick Tocchet will continue to press aggressively to enforce better defensive play heading into the postseason.

The Canucks' even-strength shooting % is coming down to earth too, as many analysts have waited for all year. If the Kings can lean on their top-ranked penalty kill to shut down the Canucks strong power play, they will have a good chance of holding Vancouver to a low total.

FanDuel's juiced Under 6.5 at -128 is the best number the larger bookmakers is offering, as it equates roughly to a price of +100 for a total of 6. If you can only get 6, though, I would still bet it down to -115.

Pick: Under 6.5 (-128 at FanDuel)

Ducks vs. Sharks

Thursday, Feb. 29
10:30 p.m. ET
Over 6 (-115)

By Carol Schram

Tuesday’s injury to San Jose goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood makes the total intriguing for this matchup. An ice-cold Kaapo Kahkonen got lit up for seven goals by the New Jersey Devils after stepping in late in the first period and will likely be called upon again on Thursday.

Magnus Chrona has been recalled from the AHL, but his two brief appearances with the Sharks this year have gone poorly with eight goals allowed in 50 minutes of total ice time.

So, the Sharks look vulnerable between the pipes on Thursday, and the Ducks haven’t been much better. They’ve allowed a league-worst 4.50 goals against per game since the All-Star break. They’re also on a back-to-back, hosting the Devils themselves on Friday. So backup Lukas Dostal may get a second-straight start after a 4-2 loss to Nashville if the Ducks elect to save John Gibson for the tougher opponent and home-ice matchup.

Of course, these teams don’t score much, either. And both sides are dealing with key injuries in their forward groups. Any Battle of California game also has the potential to get chippy, leading to a good number of power plays. And the last time these teams met at the Shark Tank in January, they exceeded the total easily with a 5-3 win for the home side.

Considering those circumstances, Thursday’s matchup has the potential to be higher-scoring than a bettor might normally expect. That makes it a great opportunity to hammer the Over 6.

Pick: Over 6 (-115 at Caesars)

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