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NHL weekend best bets: Going under in Minnesota, Sabres to slow Blues

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With just three games on Friday's schedule - two of which feature the bottom three teams - there are slim pickings to choose from.

So we're going to widen the spectrum and include Saturday's slate in our weekend best bets.

Let's get to them.

Penguins (-125) @ Wild (+105)

Note: this game is at 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday.

The Penguins have some value in this game, but the bigger edge is in the total. The under of 6.5 goals is the target.

The Penguins have played very tight, low-scoring affairs for some time. Only one of their past 10 games has gone over the total inside regulation and the Pens putting the puck in their own net proved to be the difference in that one.

The recipe for Pittsburgh's recent defensive success is simple. The team has controlled the run of play at five-on-five and taken very few penalties, and the goaltending has been good.

Projected starter Tristan Jarry has only allowed more than three goals twice since Christmas and routinely gives the Penguins above-average netminding. He's saved nearly five goals more than expected in that span, putting him ahead of All-Stars like Thatcher Demko and Jeremy Swayman.

It's also just fine if the Penguins go with Alex Nedeljkovic instead. He actually owns a higher save percentage than Jarry this season (.918 versus .916) and has proven to be a steal by new Penguins GM Kyle Dubas.

The Wild sit in the bottom 10 in five-on-five shot generation over the last 10 contests and, again, the Penguins aren't taking many penalties. That doesn't bode well for Minnesota to have a ceiling night offensively.

On the flip side, the Penguins rank 27th in goals per 60 minutes at five-on-five over the last 10 games. They also have a notoriously bad power play that, given the talent at hand, isn't nearly as productive as you'd expect.

Long-time Penguin Marc-Andre Fleury, who now calls Minnesota home, should be able to keep his former team to a manageable number in this one.

Bet: Under 6.5 (-135)

Blues @ Sabres

Note: this game is at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday.

The Blues have won plenty of games lately in a completely unsustainable fashion. They've shot the lights out at one end while getting every possible save at the other.

The Blues won four straight games before their shutout loss to the Blue Jackets. But opponents won the Grade A chance battle 67-37 in those victories and recorded 87 more shot attempts.

Their success was entirely smoke and mirrors - the process remained as bad as ever.

Although the Sabres aren't exactly world-beaters, they're on an upward trajectory. They're playing better at five-on-five, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is giving them the level of goaltending they've long been searching for.

He's saved 13.32 goals above expected since the holiday break, which is more than all but Stuart Skinner league-wide.

He hasn't seen top-tier competition in that span, but the Blues don't necessarily change that.

I think the Sabres have a depth advantage, their defensive metrics are much better, and an in-form UPL can go shot for shot with Jordan Binnington.

Look for the Sabres to get it done on home ice.

Bet: Sabres (up to -130)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X at @ToddCordell.

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