Pittsburgh Penguins (+111) at Ottawa Senators (-123, 5.5 o/u)
Tonight, the Ottawa Senators (40-26-13, 93 pts) continue their push for the postseason as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins (42-26-11, 95 pts) at the Canadian Tire Centre (7:30 PM Eastern) in a game with massive playoff implications.
Ottawa is currently two points back of Pittsburgh (and Detroit) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They can move into a tie with the Penguins with a regulation win this evening.
The Sens have been on an absolute tear over the last five weeks, dropping just three games in regulation since the beginning of March. The team let a valuable point slip away last time out, though, falling 3-2 in a shootout to the lowly Leafs on Sunday. The loss put an end to Ottawa’s three-game win streak.
“All we can do is control what we do and we have a new game on Tuesday, and it’s going to be another big one,” said Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson.
Tonight, the Sens will be facing a Pittsburgh team that is in a full-on freefall. The Pens are 3-6-1 in their last ten and have lost three straight, including two to the Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh’s 4-1 setback to Philly on the weekend ran the Flyers’ head-to-head win streak over their in-state rivals to eight games.
The Penguins threw the kitchen sink at Philly on Sunday, bombarding the Flyers with 47 shots, but they could only manage to squeak one puck past Steven Mason. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh goalie Thomas Greiss stopped just 16 of the 20 shots he faced.
Despite their recent struggles, the Penguins can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight.
“This is the time of year where you have to be desperate, and every point is so important,” said Pittsburgh center and NHL scoring-leader Sidney Crosby. “We’ve got to find a way to generate more offense and find a way to win games.”
Ottawa is a -123 home favorite for tonight’s tilt, while a Pittsburgh win will pay at +111. The narrow line looks a bit incongruous given that Ottawa is on fire and playing at home, but the Pens are 7-1-2 in their last ten against the Sens.
O/u-wise, four of the last five games in the series have stayed under the game total. The Pens are due for some offense and haven’t been able to keep the puck out of their net recently; look for this one to hit the over, as well.
(Photo credit: Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped.)