Capitals vs Penguins – NHL Playoff Pick for May 3rd
Only twice this season have the Penguins lost two games in a row at home. That’s what they’re facing if they lose Game 4 tonight to the Capitals. They would also go down 3-1 in the series and face possible elimination in Game 5 at Washington.
Despite suffering the loss, Pittsburgh won a major off-ice battle as Washington’s forward Tom Wilson was suspended by the NHL for the 3 games, which includes tonight’s Game 4 contest. Wilson earned the suspension with a hit on Penguins forward Zach Aston-Reese in Game 2. Reese suffered a concussion and a broken jaw that requires surgery. Wilson also knocked Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin out of Game 2 and put him in concussion protocol. For the series, Wilson has tallied 4 points.
In the last 2 games, both wins by Washington, Penguins goalie Matt Murray has been shaky at best. He’s credited for giving up 7 goals including Alex Ovechkin’s goal in the final 2 minutes of Game 3. Pittsburgh was also outscored 8-4 in those two losses. For the series, Pittsburgh has gone 1-9 on power plays. What was once one of the top power play units in the league, has been nullified by Washington’s excellent penalty killing unit.
The Capitals also hold the advantage in shots on goal for the series at 88 to 80. In Game 3, Washington outshot Pittsburgh 10 to 3 in the final period, which saw them score 2 goals and win the game.
The Penguins have been in this position before, down 2 games to 1 in the playoffs. Last year, they fell down 2-1 to Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Finals and two years ago they fell behind to the Lightning 3-2 in the series. Both times, the Penguins came back and would go on to win the Stanley Cup. I believe they will do it again in this series. Pittsburgh is 9-1 all-time in playoff series against the Capitals. They defeated Washington the last two years in the playoffs and in 2009. All three of those playoff series victories were stepping stones for the Penguins to go on and win the Stanley Cup.
Washington has been impressive in these playoffs, but they’ve been impressive before and have ended up losing multiple series to the Penguins. I expect it to happen again, especially tonight. Pittsburgh is 8-4 against Washington in their last 12 games at home.
Despite Game 3’s loss, the Penguins are still 97-35 at home in their last 132 games and 36-20 ATS at home against the Capitals. The Penguins are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games following a loss and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 games. They’re also 28-10 after allowing 4 goals or more in their previous game and 20-10 at home this year when the total is 6 or higher.
I can’t imagine the Penguins getting outplayed two games in a row at home in the playoffs. I expect them to bounce back in Game 4 and even up the series. This all starts with goalie Murray who has a pathetic .897 save percentage in the series and .907 save percentage for the playoffs. He’s also allowing 2.92 goals against him in the postseason. That 1.2 gaa more than what he gave up last year (1.70 gaa) when the Penguins won the Cup.
The Penguins will also need to slow down Alex Ovechkin who has scored a goal in all 3 games of the series. Despite having 2 of the NHL’s postseason leaders in points (Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby), Pittsburgh’s duo only has 5 points in the last two games. Look for Guentzel and Crosby to produce at least 3 or 4 points in this game as they lead their team to victory.
Bet: Penguins moneyline -165
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