Pittsburgh Penguins (+161) at New York Rangers (-190, 5 o/u)
Tonight, the New York Rangers (3-1, 1-1 home) have the opportunity to eliminate the Pittsburgh Penguins (1-3, 1-1 away) for the second year in a row when they host Game 4 of their best-of-seven series at Madison Square Garden (7:00 PM Eastern).
The Rangers lead the series 3-1 after winning two straight in Pittsburgh (both by a score of 2-1). New York came into Game 3 on Wednesday as slight -114 road favorites, and they didn’t disappoint their backers as rookie Kevin Hayes potted the game winner three minutes into OT.
The line of Hayes, Carl Hagelin, and Marty St. Louis did yeoman’s work down low before St. Louis’ wraparound attempt bounced to Hayes at the opposite side of the net. The 6’5″ forward shrugged off Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin and banged home the pivotal goal.
Despite now having a commanding 3-1 lead in the series, though, the Rangers are treating every game like a must-win.
“It’s a desperation moment for them, and the key is to match that,” goalie Henrik Lundqvist told the NHL’s official website. “You have to grab every opportunity you get to finish a series. You can’t just think you have more chances. You’ve gotta go for it and match their desperation.”
The Penguins, meanwhile, are trying not to panic, focusing on the fact that both Games 3 and 4 could have gone their way with a little puck luck.
“Whether it’s 2-1, 5-1, we’ve done a lot of good things,” Sidney Crosby said. “Regardless of the score, it doesn’t make it easy when you don’t find a way to win. But I think it’s encouraging that some of the things we’ve been doing have put us in pretty good positions to win a hockey game. We just have to get that last one.”
In the trends, the Rangers have won eight of the last nine games against the Penguins, and three of the last four have stayed under the game total. Every game in the series has been decided by one goal, so far. Look for tonight’s tilt to be another tight-checking, low-scoring affair, making the under (5) the play.
(Photo credit: Elliot from Castro Valley, California, USA (Sidney Crosby) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo may appear cropped from its original.)