No team has repeated as Stanley Cup champion since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are still alive to do so as they host the surprising Ottawa Senators in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night. The Pens are favored to clinch Game 1, and also lead the NHL betting odds to win this series and advance to the 2017 Stanley Cup.
Senators at Penguins NHL Hockey Odds & TV Info
Why Bet On Ottawa?
I’m shocked the Senators are even here, as they were underdogs in the first round to Original Six team Boston and won that in six, and then dogs again to the New York Rangers, another Original Six team, in the last round and won that in six. Seven of Ottawa’s eight playoff wins have been by one goal, with five coming in overtime. So maybe it’s a bit lucky.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) May 10, 2017
Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted six goals in Ottawa’s second-round series win over the Rangers. Pageau sealed a 4-2 victory in Game 6 with an empty-netter and had a spectacular performance in Game 2 when he found the back of the net four times. He scored twice late in regulation to tie and won it in double OT.
Defenseman Erik Karlsson scored the game-winning goal in Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Rangers in Game 6. Karlsson has been arguably the best player in the postseason. Not only did he add the game-winner at the 15:53 mark of the second frame, he also picked up the primary assist on Mike Hoffman’s first-period goal. Karlsson finished Game 6 with a plus-4 rating and three shots on goal in 28:44 of ice time. He picked up two goals and five assists in the six-game series against the Rangers. Karlsson is up to two goals and 13 points in 12 games this postseason, most of any defenseman. He’s averaging a 28:57 of ice time per game.
Ottawa was 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh this season, taking the most recent meeting 2-1 in a shootout at home on March 23. Karlsson led the Sens with seven points (1G, 6A) in the three games. Mike Hoffman had three goals. Craig Anderson was 0-1-0 with a 7.98 GAA and .837 save percentage. Backup Mike Condon started two of the games and was great. Ottawa’s power play gave the Penguins trouble during the regular season, going 6-for-12 against them.
This is Ottawa’s third time in the conference finals; it has never won a Stanley Cup, losing in the 2007 Finals to Anaheim.
Why Bet On Pittsburgh?
No question the Pens are the more talented team. They eliminated the Washington Capitals, the NHL’s best team in the regular season, with a 2-0 win in D.C. on Wednesday in Game 7 – the Penguins are now 6-0 in all-time road Game 7s, which is amazing.
Bryan Rust is building a reputation as a Game 7 player. Rust scored the game-winning goal to push the Penguins past Washington in the second round, but that wasn’t the first time he stepped up in a Game 7. He also scored twice last year against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final game of the Eastern Conference Final.
Sidney Crosby registered an assist in the Penguins’ 2-0 victory in Game 7. Crosby has recorded a point in each of his last three games; he missed Game 4 vs. the Caps with a concussion. Crosby is up to 151 career postseason points, which gives him sole possession of 27th place on the all-time list. Larry Murphy is just ahead of him with 152 points and after that it’s Adam Oates with his 156 points.
Crosby has 14 points in these playoffs, second on the team to Evgeni Malkin’s 18. Rookie Jake Guentzel leads the NHL with nine goals in 12 games. Three have been game-winning goals, tying him with Jaden Schwartz of the St. Louis Blues for the NHL lead.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced vs. Washington. Fleury had allowed nine goals in his previous two games as the Capitals fought their way back into this series, but in the end the Penguins goaltender shut the door. He was originally only playing in the postseason because Matt Murray wasn’t available for Game 1 of the first round, but he’s gone on to play a key role in the Penguins’ advancement. Murray is healthy now but won’t be getting his job back. Fleury has a 2.55 GAA and .927 save percentage in the playoffs. This is likely Fleury’s final postseason with the team as he’s widely expected to be traded because Murray is the future.
Penguins defenseman Trevor Daley is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, which he suffered against the Capitals and it cost him the final two games. Pittsburgh forward Carl Hagelin missed Game 7 with an injury. Both are questionable for Game 1.
This is the fifth postseason meeting between Pittsburgh and Ottawa in the past 11 seasons, first since 2013. Pittsburgh has won three of those four. It took the 2013 conference semifinal in five games vs. Ottawa and led for 310 of the 327 minutes.
Expert Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Five of Pittsburgh’s eight wins in the first two rounds were by more than one goal; that leads the NHL. Pens win Game 1 and the series in six.