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Oilers to rebound vs. Wild on Friday night

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Although there are only three games on the board Friday night, a couple of sides still pop off the page. Let's dive in.

Sabres (-140) @ Blue Jackets (+120)

The Blue Jackets are having a miserable time defensively. They've allowed just under 33 shots per game this month and are giving up real quality as well. Only two teams - the Sharks and Predators - have conceded more expected goals per 60 minutes of five-on-five play.

Their metrics would be concerning under any circumstances. That the best team they've faced in that span sits 13th in the NHL - and three of the five games were against clubs nowhere close to a playoff position - only makes matters worse.

Columbus is putting a lot on its goaltenders, and there isn't reason to believe they can hold up.

Elvis Merzlikins has allowed at least three goals in seven of eight starts in 2024. He also gave up two goals on two shots during his short cameo against a horrible Ducks team.

Daniil Tarasov owns a .881 save percentage and has allowed upward of four goals per game this season.

The Blue Jackets just can't get reliable saves, something they need with how many shots and chances they're giving up.

For all the Sabres' faults, they've looked a lot better of late. They've generated 33.4 shots on goal per game since the calendar flipped, good for fourth most in the NHL during that span.

The team has also gotten consistently excellent goaltending from Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who sits second in the NHL in goals saved above expected in 2024.

The Sabres are likely to heavily test the Blue Jackets' subpar goaltending. With an in-form UPL at the other end, this is a spot where Buffalo should take care of business.

Bet: Sabres (-140)

Wild (+155) @ Oilers (-185)

The Oilers are firing on all cylinders offensively. They've scored 26 goals over the last five games and are full value for it, ranking third in high-danger chances during that span.

With weapons like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman, and Co., the Oilers don't need a ton of opportunities to find the back of the net. That they're generating chances at such an extreme rate makes them borderline unstoppable.

Filip Gustavsson likely won't be up to the task. His game has fallen off a cliff relative to where it was a year ago, and he's showing no signs of improvement.

Gustavsson has allowed 10.44 goals above expectation since Jan. 1, the most of all NHL netminders. The Wild have often managed to outscore his struggles, but getting into a track meet with the Oilers is unlikely to end well.

Minnesota has also struggled mightily to stay out of the penalty box of late. Parading to the bin would be a recipe for disaster against this lethal Oilers power play, which generates chances at a higher clip than any other team.

This is a big step up in class for the Wild, whose recent success doesn't look as impressive when factoring in competition.

Their wins this month have come against the Blackhawks, Coyotes, Penguins, an injury-battered Golden Knights team, and the Canucks in a game they scored on eight of 25 shots against a backup.

Look for the Oilers to flex their muscles inside 60 minutes.

Bet: Oilers in regulation (-120)

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

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