Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers NHL Preview and Free Pick
The Pittsburgh Penguins will try and even-up their opening round best-of-seven series against the New York Rangers this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The puck is set to drop in this Metro Division clash at 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
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The Penguins basically backed into the NHL Playoffs with just one victory in their last six regular season games, but they gave the top-seeded Rangers all they could handle in Thursday's 2-1 loss as heavy +158 road underdogs. The total stayed UNDER the closing line of 5 and it has now stayed UNDER in seven of their last nine games. Pittsburgh was 20-13-8 on the road this season, but they have now lost five of its last six road games.
It is hard to beat any team in this league when you spot them a two goal lead on their home ice, so Pittsburgh can take something positive away from Thursday's loss. Penguins' goalie Marc-Andre Fleury put his team in a 1-0 hole less than a minute into that game, but he was able to tighten things up from there with a .947 save percentage on 38 shots on goal. Left winger Blake Comeau scored the Penguins only goal of the night with both Ben Lovejoy and Nick Spaling getting an assist.
New York was the top team in the NHL this season with 113 total points, so it is no wonder why it opened these Stanley Cup Playoffs as a solid favorite to make a second-straight trip to the NHL Finals. The Rangers were ranked third in the league in both goals scored (3.0) and goals allowed (2.3) and they built some solid momentum heading into this series with six victories in their final seven regular season games. The total went OVER in four of their final five games behind an average of 3.6 goals per game.
Rangers' center Derick Brassard scored that early goal and defenseman Ryan McDonagh added the eventual game-winner late in the first period to give New York the early 2-0 lead. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist took over from there by stopping 24 of the 25 shots he faced. McDonagh's goal came on a power play, which was a welcomed sight given that the Rangers were ranked 22nd in the league with a 16.8 conversion rate with the man advantage.
The Penguins are just 6-20 in their last 26 division games and they have now lost their last seven games against a team with a winning record. The total has stayed UNDER in four of their last five games in the division.
The Rangers are 41-15 in their last 56 games against a division opponent and they are 5-1 in their last six games against a team with a winning record. The total has gone OVER in five of their last seven division games.
New York has now won the last three meetings in this matchup as part of a 3-1 edge in this year's four regular season games. The total has stayed UNDER in three of these five games. The home team in this matchup has now won five of the last seven games.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers Pick
The Penguins were able to make a game of it on Thursday night, but that may have been their best chance to get a win on the road in this series. The money line risk is rather high, but look for New York to take full advantage of the situation to build the early 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven division clash.