Pittsburgh (1-1) at Ottawa (1-1)
When: Wednesday, May 17th 2017
Where: Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Time: 8:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports Network
The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to generate some much needed offense when their Eastern Conference finals series with the Ottawa Senators shifts to Canada for Game 3. Pittsburgh had an NHL-best 3.39 goals per game during the regular season and kept that going over the first two rounds of the playoffs (3.42), but they have been reduced to just goals while splitting the first two contests with the Senators. Phil Kessel scored the lone goal in the third period of Monday’s 1-0 victory in Pittsburgh to even the series. The Penguins have managed eight goals in their last five games after recording 35 in their initial nine of the playoffs, with Ottawa’s 1-3-1 defensive alignment wreaking havoc in the conference final. Evgeni Malkin set up Kessel on Monday to increase his point total to an NHL-best 20 (six goals, 14 assists), joining Mario Lemieux as the only players in franchise history to reach that mark on three occasions. Kessel’s sixth goal of the playoffs followed one of his many emotional outbursts on the bench, with a particular one involving assistant coach Rick Tocchet caught on camera about Pittsburgh’s need to move the puck. Marc-Andre Fleury is sporting a .977 save percentage in his last three games after turning aside all 23 shots in Game 2 for his franchise-leading 10th career postseason shutout.
Ottawa’s offense has not been much better as they rely more on the defensive side. They failed to record a shot on goal for 18:53 during the second and third periods of Sunday’s Game 2 loss. Goalie Craig Anderson has been almost as good as Fleury thus far, posting a .958 save percentage in his last three games and .920 for the playoffs. Ottawa may receive an offensive boost as the series shifts to Canada’s capital in the form of forward Viktor Stalberg and defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who coach Guy Boucher said “could be coming in at any moment.” Stalberg has been sidelined since Game 6 of the second-round series versus the New York Rangers with an undisclosed injury while Borowiecki has been out since Game 2 of the first-round set against Boston with a lower-body ailment. Captain Erik Karlsson is playing with two hairline fractures in his foot, but the two-time Norris Trophy recipient still managed to record a team-high 26:59 of ice time in Game 2. Ottawa tops the remaining four teams in the playoffs with an 89.1% penalty kill percentage.
The Senators will definitely get a boost at home, but you can’t keep this Pittsburgh team down much longer. I believe the Penguins bust out tonight and take the series lead.
Pick: Penguins -130
HEAD TO HEAD
Trends courtesy of SportsOptions.com – an UltimateCapper.com partner