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Devils, Pens on NHL lines

The New Jersey Devils are absolutely sizzling and will be home favorites in NHL betting action Friday night against a Pittsburgh Penguins team that has fallen from the top of the Eastern Conference since losing Sidney Crosby to a concussion.

New Jersey is 18-2-2 since January 9, including a 9-0-1 run at the Prudential Center, and all of a sudden they find themselves playing their way back into a playoff race. The Devils still have a ways to go, but with Martin Brodeur healthy and Ilya Kovalchuk scoring at a healthy pace anything is possible.

Expect many to wager heavily on the Devils to take this encounter, a bet no one would have taken a couple months ago on the NHL betting lines. The Penguins have done a good job of shutting down Kovalchuk in three meetings thus far, but the Devils shut out the Penguins 2-0 during their hot streak. Pittsburgh won two earlier head-to-head matchups.

Chris Kunitz could return to the lineup for this matchup, while Tyler Kennedy and Paul Martin are back, and that means the Penguins could have reason for optimism. Pittsburgh has a win this season at New Jersey, and with a 17-10-5 road record they could be a profitable and solid road underdog possibility.

The OVER/UNDER total will be set around 5.5 for this contest, but the previous six of seven head-to-head have made winners of UNDER bettors.

A key NHL betting matchup features the league-best Vancouver Canucks on the road against the suddenly streaking Los Angeles Kings, who will be a slight home favorite when the two meet Saturday afternoon.

The Kings had gone 6-2-2 over the past 10 games and were a very respectable 19-10-1 at home before meeting Phoenix on Thursday. Los Angeles won handily 4-1 last time the teams met early in the season in California, while the Kings edged the Canucks 2-1 in their only matchup in Vancouver this season.

If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, these teams would be engaging in a first-round battle and this could be a preview of what’s in store. The Kings are sitting just one point up in the Western Conference standings though, while the Canucks are simply trying to avoid serious injury and secure home-ice throughout the playoffs.

Nine of the Canucks' 15 regulation losses this season have come on the road, and that should make the Kings the more popular choice on the NHL betting lines, especially with them battling for their playoff lives and a strong home record. Both games this season have made winners of UNDER bettors, while the previous four sent OVER bettors to the payout window.