Pittsburgh (40-16-8) at Winnipeg (30-31-6)
When: Wednesday, March 8th 2017
Where: MTS Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: ROOT Pittsburgh, Sportsnet
The Pittsburgh Penguins look to keep the offense clicking when they start a five-game road trip with a visit to the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday night. The Penguins are coming off a pair of home wins over the weekend in which they scored nine goals, but have just scored just 10 in dropping four of their past five road contests. Evgeni Malkin recorded three goals and five points in wins over Tampa Bay and Buffalo and also scored in a February 16th meeting against the Jets. Captain Sidney Crosby eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau by registering the first of his two assists before scoring in overtime in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 victory over Winnipeg last month. Defenseman Justin Schultz recently returned from a concussion and has two goals and three assists in his last two games. Fellow defenseman Kris Letang, who has been sidelined since February 21st with an upper-body injury, will not travel with the team on the Western Canada portion of the road trip. Goalie Matt Murray is expected to make his first career start versus the Jets with fellow G Marc-Andre Fleury (illness) missing practice on Tuesday. The Penguins road trip will continue in Edmonton on Friday night.
The Jets come in having dropped eight of their last 13 games and find themselves three points behind St. Louis for the final Western Conference playoff spot. Rookie Patrik Laine (team-leading 32 goals) scored in the first meeting with Pittsburgh and has nine goals in as many games to pull within two of Crosby for the NHL lead. The 18-year-old had an assist in a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Monday, marking the first time in nine games that Winnipeg failed to score three or more goals. Mark Scheifele has goals in back-to-back games and three of the first four contests of Winnipeg’s six-game homestand to move within one of matching his career-high total of 29, set last season. Scheifele set up a pair of goals in last month’s game versus the Penguins and has 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in his past nine games overall. Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien scored versus Pittsburgh and his next goal will give him double digits for the fourth straight season and ninth time in the last ten. Goalie Connor Hellebuyck, who is set to make his 12th straight start on Wednesday, has allowed just three goals in his last three games after permitting 10 in his previous two.
Pittsburgh’s offense is sizzling right now and the Jets are ranked 27th in goals allowed this season. Winnipeg is just 2-15 in their last 17 games against teams from the Metropolitan Division. I think the Pens win this game easily.
Pick: Penguins -130
HEAD TO HEAD
Trends courtesy of SportsOptions.com – an UltimateCapper.com partner