Boston Bruins (+128) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-141, 5.5 o/u)
Two teams carrying a lot of momentum will meet this afternoon as the Boston Bruins (35-22-10, 80 pts) visit the Pittsburgh Penguins (39-18-10, 88 pts) at the CONSOL Energy Center (1:00 p.m. Eastern).
Boston comes into the game winners of four straight and six of seven. On Thursday, the Bs downed Tampa 3-2 in a shootout with Patrice Bergeron netting the winner in the skills competition (and Brad Marchand adding an insurance marker).
Despite getting the two points, Boston coach Claude Julien continues to disapprove of deciding games via shootouts. “I always believe that this is a team sport and should be decided by a team,” Julien said. “If the fans like it that much and they keep it in then I have no issues. But if you ask me my personal opinion, I’d like to see it decided in a way that it’s more than just one player against a goaltender.”
The Bruins currently occupy the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The team had seen its lead over ninth-place Florida dwindle over the past month, but the recent hot streak has stretched it back out to six points.
Today, the Bruins will face a Penguins team on a roll of its own. Pittsburgh has won three of its last four and is 7-2-1 in its last ten. On Thursday, the Pens picked up a 6-4 win over the Western Conference basement-dwellers, Edmonton. Pittsburgh roared to a 4-0 lead, but allowed the Oilers to score four straight and tie the game before Steven Downie potted the winner mid-way through the third. Patric Hornqvist added an insurance marker just over a minute after Downie’s winner.
The Penguins were happy to get the points, but recognize giving up a four-goal lead is unacceptable.
“We were lazy,” Hornqvist said of the mid-game collapse. “We were comfortable. We didn’t work hard enough to win. That can’t happen again. Now we’ve learned our lesson. We have to stay with it.”
Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin reached a milestone in the win, notching his 700th NHL point. He’s the fourth Penguin to accomplish the feat (Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, and Sidney Crosby).
The Penguins are third in the Metropolitan Division at the moment, but they’re just two points back of the second-place Islanders and have two games in hand. They’re also a comfortable six points up on fourth place Washington.
Boston is listed at +128 in the moneyline, while Pittsburgh is -141 and the o/u is at 5.5. The Pens seem to have found their scoring touch again (scoring four or more goals in six of the last nine), while the Bruins have scored three or more goals in seven straight games. Consider the over.
(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.)