Bolts Favored Over The Pens, Despite Malkin’s Delusions

mag813 May 24, 2016 0
Bolts Favored Over The Pens, Despite Malkin’s Delusions

Following losses in the last two games of the Eastern Conference Final, the Pittsburgh Penguins have gone from Stanley Cup favorites to underdogs.

Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning have gone from series underdogs to favorites, but they will host the Penguins as +120 home dogs (bet $100 to win $120) in Game 6 on Tuesday at sportsbooksmonitored by Odds Shark.

Pittsburgh is listed as a -140 favorite (bet $140 to win $100) and has been chalk in every game of the series. However, the goaltending of both teams has played a key role in turning the tide over the past two games.

Heading into the Eastern Conference Final, rookie goalie Matt Murray was shining bright for the Pens with Marc-Andre Fleury out. A 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 4 with Murray stopping 26 of 30 shots prompted Pittsburgh to go back to Fleury in Game 5, but the result was even worse.

Fleury turned away 21 of 25 shots in Game 5 and allowed the game-tying goal to Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov with less than four minutes remaining in regulation. He then surrendered Tyler Johnson’s game-winner only 53 seconds into overtime.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy has stepped up in the absence of Ben Bishop, notching wins in the last two games after losing Games 2 and 3. Even in those defeats, Vasilevskiy made 82 saves after facing 89 shots for a solid save percentage of .921.

Bishop suffered a leg injury in Game 1 and has not played since then, and his status again remains questionable for Game 6 on Tuesday night.

Regardless, the Lightning backed up Vasilevskiy nicely in Games 4 and 5 behind Kucherov, who tallied five points during that stretch (two goals and three assists). His two goals in Game 5 were huge, and he has seven points in the past three games after going scoreless in the first two.

The over is 16-2-1 in the previous 19 meetings between the teams, according to the Odds Shark NHL Database, and the Pens will need more scoring from Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to turn things around and advance.

Malkin has guaranteed there will be a Game 7 back in Pittsburgh, according to NHL.com, but he has just three points in the series, with one in each of the last three games. Crosby has been shut out the past two contests after scoring game-winning goals in the previous two. Kessel had at least one point in six straight games before being held to three shots on goal in Game 5.

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