Ottawa (3-3) at Pittsburgh (3-3)
When: Thursday, May 25th 2017
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC
History seems to be against both the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins when it comes to winner-take-all Game 7’s, but one team will walk away with the Eastern Conference trophy and battle the Nashville Predators on Monday in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators bounced back nicely from a 7-0 drubbing in Game 5 to post a hard-fought 2-1 victory behind goalie Craig Anderson. Mike Hoffman scored the tie-breaking goal early in the third period, while Anderson stopped 45 shots overall and 22 in the second to preserve the win after getting pulled in Game 5. Bobby Ryan scored a power-play goal which was Ottawa’s first in 30 chances covering the last 10 games. Ottawa is 0-5 all-time in Game 7, but Anderson is 3-1 with a 0.76 goals-against average in his last four starts when facing elimination. Ryan, taken No. 2 overall in the 2005 NHL draft behind Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, scored 13 times in 62 regular-season games but has six goals in 18 postseason contests. Ottawa is looking for it’s first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals since 2007.
The Penguins will be looking to make it back-to-back Finals appearances, and can be the first team to do so since themselves back in 2008-09. The Penguins have not been very good at home in Game 7’s, posting just a 3-7 record and have lost seven straight Game 7’s at home after losing Game 6. Crosby has two goals and two assists and Evgeni Malkin six assists in six Game 7’s for Pittsburgh. Crosby scored in three straight games prior to Tuesday’s loss and is tied for second in the postseason in scoring with 19 points. Malkin, who scored Pittsburgh’s lone goal in Game 6, has a playoff-leading 24 points. Goalie Matt Murray, who posted a relatively easy shutout in Game 5, stopped 28 shots on Tuesday and will most likely get the nod again over Marc-Andre Fleury. Coach Mike Sullivan said F Patric Hornqvist and D Justin Schultz could return for Game 7. Whichever teams wins this contest will host Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday night.
Anderson was terrific on Tuesday, but I can’t see the puck staying out of the net if Pittsburgh continues to dominate puck possession. Ottawa is still struggling offensively and Murray will be up to the task. I’ll take the home team in this one.
Pick: Penguins -200
HEAD TO HEAD
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