Pittsburgh (3-2) at Ottawa (2-3)
When: Tuesday, May 23rd 2017
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports Network
The Pittsburgh Penguins are sixty minutes away from playing in their second consecutive Stanley Cup Final and will try and close out the Ottawa Senators on the road Tuesday night. To say the Penguins have the momentum coming into Game 6 would be an understatement. They completely humiliated the Senators in Game 5 on Sunday to the tune of 7-0. Sidney Crosby scored for a third consecutive game as part of a four-goal first period in which the Penguins twice chased goalie Craig Anderson. Bryan Rust had a goal and assist in his return from a concussion and Olli Maatta and Scott Wilson also beat Anderson in the fist period onslaught. Matt Murray stopped 21 shots to win his second straight start following a six-week injury layoff. Evgeni Malkin (NHL-best 17 assists, 23 points) recorded three assists to push his career playoff total to 98, moving him past team owner Mario Lemieux (96) for second on the franchise’s all-time list. While everyone is focused on the stars Malkin, Crosby and Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh’s third line of Rust (goal, assist), Nick Bonino (two assists) and Carter Rowney (three assists) combined for seven points in Game 5. Maatta opened the scoring for the second consecutive game on Sunday to increase his point total to seven (two goals, five assists), matching his regular season total in 38 fewer games played.
Anderson was pulled briefly after the Penguins went up 3-0 in the first and removed for good to start the second period. He stopped just 10 of 14 shots on what was his 36th birthday. Coach Guy Boucher quickly shot down any rumors that Ottawa would go with backup Mike Condon in Game 6. Boucher is still playing the underdog card heavily – maybe to ignite a fire under his team perhaps. “We know they’re a better team. Everybody knows that on the planet,” said Boucher. Captain Erik Karlsson (team-leading 13 assists, 15 points), who is playing with two hairline fractures in his left heel, is expected to be back in the lineup after receiving a bit of a breather with Sunday’s game well out of hand and rested the entire third period. Boucher also rested fellow defenseman Cody Ceci and forward Derick Brassard in the final period. Ottawa is 0-5 when trailing a best-of-seven series by a 3-2 margin, and it has only forced a Game 7 on two occasions. The Senators were in a similar situation in 2013, allowing seven goals to the Penguins in a lopsided playoff loss and were summarily bounced in the ensuing game (6-2) to be eliminated from that Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Boucher is right – the Penguins are a better team. The Senators just don’t have enough offense to keep up with Pittsburgh. Look for the Penguins to end this series and play the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Pick: Penguins -150
HEAD TO HEAD
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