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Avalanche Looking for First Road Win of the Season at KeyBank Center

Nathan McKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 9, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

The Buffalo Sabres were only able to win three games in a row once last season, but they have an opportunity to match that in the first week of the 2018-19 campaign when they wrap up a four-game homestand against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Sportsbooks opened both the Sabres and Avs as -110 on the moneyline with a total of 6.

  • The total has gone OVER in 10 of the Avalanche’s last 13 games vs the Sabres (avg. combined score: 6.46).
  • The Sabres are 2-12 SU in their last 14 games at home after winning their most recent home game.
  • The Avalanche are 12-3 SU in their last 15 games vs the Sabres.

Avalanche vs Sabres Game Center

Avs still seeking first road win of the year

Colorado opened the season by posting a pair of three-goal victories at home but stumbled in the form of a 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in their first road game of the year. Nathan MacKinnon, who set career highs with 39 goals, 58 assists and 97 points last season, has scored a goal in each of the Avalanche’s first three games. In his career, MacKinnon has three goals and eight points in eight meetings with the Sabres.

The Sabres, who won a league-low 11 games at home in 2017-18, were booed off the ice after they were shut out in the season opener but have rebounded since by beating the New York Rangers and Vegas Golden Knights. Newly named captain Jack Eichel scored twice in Monday’s 4-2 triumph over Vegas and has notched consecutive two-point games for Buffalo. Eichel has two goals and six points in five games against Colorado.

OVERs aplenty when Sabres, Avalanche get together

When Colorado and Buffalo collide, high-scoring affairs tend to follow. In the last 13 games between the clubs, the OVER is 10-3 with an average combined score of 6.5 goals. Dating back to last season, the OVER is also 7-2 in the Sabres’ past nine games with an average combined score of 7.3 goals.

Beating good teams on the road has been an issue for Colorado. In the Avs’ past seven road games against teams with winning records, Colorado is 1-6 SU. The good news for Avalanche bettors is the Sabres’ trouble stringing together consecutive solid showings at home, evidenced by Buffalo going 2-12 SU in its last 14 home games after winning the most recent contest at KeyBank Center.

Hutton, Varlamov slated to get the start in net

Carter Hutton and Semyon Varlamov are listed as the probable starting goaltenders for the Sabres and Avalanche, respectively. Hutton (2-1-0, 2.06 goals-against average, .943 save percentage) has turned in consecutive great performances, stopping 78 of 81 shots in the past two tilts. Goaltending was a major issue for the Sabres last season, but it looks like Buffalo may have finally found some stability between the pipes with the ex-St. Louis Blues puck-stopper.

Varlamov (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .948 SP) has dominated the Sabres in his career, going 6-2-1 with a 2.46 GAA in nine starts vs Buffalo. The Russian did allow three goals in a 4-2 loss to Buffalo in his lone game against them a year ago, though.

My pick: take the OVER

Oddsmakers are clearly expecting this one to be tight, evidenced by both teams opening as -110 on the moneyline. Instead of taking a straight-up pick, I’m betting the OVER in this game. Both clubs have fared well offensively in the young campaign, and while Varlamov and Hutton have been solid between the pipes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fireworks in Upstate New York.