Sunday NHL Odds, Picks, Prediction: Florida Panthers vs. Buffalo Sabres Betting Preview (April 3)
Ben Green/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Jeff Skinner.
- The Panthers are big road favorites on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo.
- The Sabres are on a solid run of late, having won five of their last eight games in regulation.
- Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and makes her betting pick below.
Panthers vs. Sabres Odds
|Over/Under||7 (+100 / -120)|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.|
They’re 39 points apart in the standings, but the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabres should deliver an entertaining matinee affair when they meet up on Sunday at KeyBank Center.
The Panthers are a playoff favorite and come into the game having erased a four-goal deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 7-6 on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the surprising Sabres are 5-0-3 in their last eight games. They’re coming off a 4-3 home win over Nashville on Thursday, in front of their largest crowd of the year.
Here’s the latest on both teams and your best bet for the game.
Florida Attack Remains Dynamic
The Panthers have made a quick trip north for their back-to-back set this weekend. In New Jersey on Saturday, they came out flat and Sergei Bobrovsky laid a rare egg in net. He gave up six goals on 25 shots, which saw Devils out to a 6-2 lead after two periods.
Spencer Knight took over to start the third, stopping all six shots he faced. And the Panthers engaged their offense to mount yet another massive comeback, eventually winning in overtime.
In spite of his relief appearance, Knight is expected to get the start against Buffalo. He’s just under the league average in goals saved above expected at -0.5, and he gave up four goals on 24 shots in his last outing, last Sunday in Florida’s 5-2 road loss to Toronto.
The Panthers also have a fairly lengthy list of injuries. Rookie forward Anton Lundell returned on Saturday after missing 11 games. But defenseman Aaron Ekblad is still sidelined, along with Patric Hornqvist, Noel Acciari and Marcus Nutivaara.
Florida’s blue-line depth has been boosted by trade-deadline acquisitions Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg. Remarkably, five of the team’s seven goals on Saturday came from defensemen.
With those injuries in mind, plus the back-to-back set and the probable start for the backup goalie, it won’t be surprising if Florida can’t bring its A-game to Buffalo on Sunday.
But the Panthers are an elite offensive machine. They can sometimes eke out wins even when they’re not playing their best.
Improved Sabres Are No Pushover
Maybe the Sabres are having late-season success because the pressure is off. Or maybe this group is starting to gel, under some strong coaching from Don Granato?
Buffalo hasn’t lost in regulation since March 17. Over the last month, the Sabres have played spoiler against a number of playoff-bound teams, beating Toronto (twice), Minnesota, Calgary, Pittsburgh and Nashville.
But don’t start thinking Sunday’s game will be a slam-dunk for the Sabres. They lost 6-1 to the Panthers on home ice on March 7, following a 7-4 defeat in Sunrise, Fla., back in December.
Buffalo’s strong recent results have come, in part, as a result of solid goaltending from ageless Craig Anderson. But Dustin Tokarski is more likely to start on Sunday, and his numbers don’t inspire much confidence: 7-9-5 for the year with a .904 save percentage and -7.5 goals saved above expected.
Also, the Sabres’ possession numbers still aren’t great. They’re 18th with an expected goals share of 49.67% at 5-on-5 over their last 10 games while Florida is third (59.63%). And even over the last month, Buffalo’s special teams still rank in the bottom half of the league.
Panthers vs. Sabres Pick
Buffalo is riding a wave right now. The Panthers have the best points percentage in the NHL since March 1 — 12-2-1 for .833. But, surprisingly, the Sabres sit fourth at 9-3-3 over the same span, with a points percentage of .700.
Heading into Sunday’s game, Buffalo is healthier, more rested and coming off an emotional win.
But the Panthers have dispatched them by multi-goal margins both times they’ve played this season, and the numbers suggest that the Sabres’ results will regress at some point.
Buffalo may not eke out a win against Florida, but with the Panthers in a relatively tough spot on their schedule, look for the hosts to keep it close.
Your best bet is Buffalo on the puckline. BetMGM is offering an appealing line here, at close to plus money.
Pick: Sabres +1.5 (-105); play down to -120