Washington Capitals (-101) at Pittsburgh Penguins (-109, 5 o/u)
Facing elimination for the second time in the series, the Washington Capitals (6-5 SU, 2-3 Away) travel to Pittsburgh looking for their first road win of the series tonight against the Penguins (7-3 SU, 5-1 Home) at the CONSOL Energy Center (8:00 PM Eastern).
On Saturday, the Capitals staved off elimination with a 3-1 win at home, but still trail the best-of-seven 3-2. Captain Alex Ovechkin finally made his presence felt in the series, scoring the opener and assisting on TJ Oshie’s game-winner.
Ovechkin played like a man possessed with six shots and three hits in 20 minutes of ice-time.
“He’s our leader. We look up to him,” Oshie told the Associated Press. “When you see a guy like him that can beat you in so many different ways come out and bring that type of energy, you’d better get on board or just stay on the bench.”
The Capitals were 2-5 on the powerplay after going 1-12 in the first four.
Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray finally came down to Earth. The rookie has a .937 save-percentage and 1.96 goals-against-average in the playoffs, but surrendered three goals on just 19 shots in Game 5.
The Pens brass is sticking with Murray between the pipes even though veteran Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be fully recovered from his concussion symptoms.
Pittsburgh will need to worry more about solving Braden Holtby than their own goaltending situation. Despite throwing 31 shots on net, the Pens were only able to solve the Vezina favorite once. After Chris Kunitz scored on a rebound on a first-period powerplay, Holtby was lights-out.
Sidney Crosby picked up an assist on the goal, but Evgeni Malkin was held off the board for the third straight game.
Pittsburgh is 5-1 at home during the postseason, and 10-1 in their last 11 at home dating back to the regular season. Malkin and Crosby are too skilled and boast too much playoff experience to be shut down again in such a crucial game. As long as Murray stays solid between the pipes, the Pens should be able to close this one out at home.
Pick: Penguins (-109).
(Photo Credit: pointnshoot (Flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/].)