Oilers, Flames both favourites on Saturday NHL odds

In this Monday, March 2, 2020, file photo, Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl (29), of Germany, plays against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey game. (Mark Humphrey, File, AP)

Four Canadian teams will be in action on Saturday when the NHL postseason finally gets underway, starting with the Edmonton Oilers taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference qualifying series as -150 betting favourites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Edmonton makes its return to the playoff picture following a two-year absence, but has plenty of work to do to reverse its shaky 1-3-0 record in four previous meetings with Chicago going into Saturday afternoon’s matchup at Rogers Place.

The Oilers closed out the abbreviated regular season schedule with losses in three of their final four games. However, with the lengthy pause in the season allowing the team to recover from a rash of injuries to key personnel, including captain Connor McDavid, the Oilers have emerged as strong -175 favourites at online betting sites to knock off the 12th-seeded Blackhawks, and sit as a +400 wager to sweep the series.

The Blackhawks open their first playoff series in three years pegged as +130 Game 1 underdogs. Chicago posted a mediocre 32-38-8 record this season, but ended its schedule with wins in five of its final seven contests.

Later on Saturday, the Montreal Canadiens enter Game 1 of their best-of-five series with the Pittsburgh Penguins as +145 underdogs, while the late game has the Calgary Flames taking on the Winnipeg Jets as -120 chalk.

Losers of eight in a row on two occasions, the Canadiens struggled badly over the final four weeks of the season, posting wins in just four of their final 14 contests. Montreal also came out flat in this week’s exhibition clash with Toronto, failing to convert on six power play opportunities while surrendering a pair of shorthanded goals in a 4-2 loss.

After being bitten by the injury bug that contributed to a dismal 3-8-0 stretch run, the Penguins hit the ice for Game 1 as -165 favourites on the NHL odds. Pittsburgh has a lot to prove after being swept by the New York islanders in the first round in last season’s playoffs, and is listed as a strong -235 wager on the NHL playoff series prices.

The Flames will be looking for redemption after following up last year’s playoff failure with a streaky performance this season. However, Calgary has been held to a single goal in four of its last six meetings with the Jets, who sport +110 odds of handing the Flames yet another playoff disappointment.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Carolina Hurricanes are -130 favourites in their Game 1 matchup with the New York Rangers, while the New York Islanders battle the Florida Panthers as -120 favourites.

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