Columbus Blue Jackets at Buffalo Sabres odds, picks and best bets
The Buffalo Sabres (25-24-8) host the Columbus Blue Jackets (30-17-10) Thursday at KeyBank Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. We analyze the Blue Jackets-Sabres sports betting odds and lines, while providing NHL betting tips and picks around this matchup.
Blue Jackets at Sabres: Projected starting goalies
Elvis Merzlikins vs. Carter Hutton
Merzlikins took a 2-1 overtime loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning his last time out, despite stopping 28 of 30 shots faced. The 25-year-old is 12-7-5 with a 2.19 goals against average and .930 save percentage on his rookie season.
Hutton has strung together a rare two-game winning streak. He stopped a total of 64 of 68 shots against the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. He is 9-9-4 with a 3.18 GAA and .896 SV% through 22 starts and one relief appearance.
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Blue Jackets at Sabres: Odds, picks and betting tips
Odds courtesy of BetMGM; access USA TODAY Sports for a full list.
Odds last updated at 8:40 a.m. ET.
Blue Jackets 5, Sabres 2
The Blue Jackets and Sabres have equal -110 odds in a pick ’em Thursday in Buffalo. The Jackets are 7-1-2 across their last 10 games and 12-7-7 on the road for the season, but they’ve dropped two straight games to the Colorado Avalanche (2-1) and Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1) with injuries to Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones weakening the lineup. The Sabres are coming off a 3-2 win over the Red Wings Tuesday, but they’re just 4-5-1 over their last 10 games and a modest 16-10-4 at home.
Take the BLUE JACKETS (-110) with no direction offered from the oddsmakers. The Jackets are still the stronger team, even with the injuries, and Merzlikins is the far better of the two goaltenders.
Puck Line/Against the Spread (ATS)
We’re going to go to the alternate puck line and back the BLUE JACKETS (-1.5, +260) to win by at least 2 goals on the road. Columbus is 33-24 against the spread overall and 19-7 on the road. Buffalo is 31-26 ATS overall but just 14-16 on home ice.
The season series is split 1-1 coming into Thursday with both sides winning in overtime. The Jackets have been the much better team since the start of January and are the play.
Take the OVER 5.5 (+105) as the more profitable side of the total bet and expect the Blue Jackets to take care of the bulk of the scoring. Columbus is just 2-8 against the Over/Under across its last 10 games and Buffalo is 3-6-1 against the number in the same span. Fade Hutton’s two-game hot streak.
Esten’s NHL betting record: 227-209
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