Pittsburgh Penguins (+115) at San Jose Sharks (-135, 5 o/u)
Falling behind two games to none in their first Stanley Cup finals appeared to be a death sentence for the San Jose Sharks (13-8, 7-2 home). But returning to the SAP Center gave the Sharks new life. Now they’ll try to even up their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins (14-7, 5-4 road) tonight, and become just the sixth team to rally back from a 2-0 hole in the finals.
There was no reason for the Sharks to be too down on themselves after losing Games 1 and 2. They were outplayed in the first two, but both could have gone either way. They took Game 3 in OT and now every game has been decided by one goal, two scored in overtime and one in the final three minutes of regulation.
San Jose has been grossly outshot this series, but goaltender Martin Jones has answered the bell on the game’s biggest stage. Jones has stopped 106 of 113 faced, helping keep the Sharks in games despite long stretches of offensive futility.
Despite winning Game 3 at home, continuing their dominant playoff run in the Bay Area, the Sharks still can’t be thrilled with how they’re playing. The home team has the last change before faceoffs, meaning San Jose should’ve been able to find a favorable matchup for Joe Pavelski. But the leading scorer of these playoffs continued to be frozen out in this series, a big reason the Sharks were 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
Pittsburgh has few, if any, changes to make to their gameplan. The Penguins have held the edge in puck possession in this series, but did lose the takeaway battle with the Sharks in Game 3, 18-10. Even still, they had ample opportunity to put the series out of reach, but their biggest scorers failed as well, from Phil Kessel missing on a breakaway to Evgeni Malkin going completely M.I.A.
While the Sharks are regaining their confidence, I still like the Pens in this spot. Pittsburgh has lost back-to-back games just once in the past four and a half months. They don’t let one loss get to them, and in a tightly-contested series, they should be able to bounce back tonight.
Pick: Penguins (+115).
(Photo credit: mark6mauno (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)