San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1 Betting Lines - Free Pick
This year's NHL Playoffs are down to the top team from each conference with the West's San Jose Sharks facing off against the East's Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals. Game 1 of this best-of-seven battle is set for Monday night at Consol Energy Center in an 8 p.m. (ET) start that will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network.
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Pittsburgh's journey to the championship round started with a 4-1 series victory against the New York Rangers. The Penguins got past favored Washington in six games and they needed the full seven games to upend Tampa Bay in the conference finals. They played 10 games at home during this same span with a 7-3 record. The total went OVER or ended as a PUSH in eight of the 10 games.
The biggest gun for Pittsburgh in the postseason has been right winger Phil Kessel with a team-high nine goals and 18 total points. Sidney Crosby has added six goals and nine assists and all told this team boasts a total of eight players with at least 10 points in the playoffs. Goalie Matt Murray filled-in admirably for an injured Marc-Andre Fleury in 15 postseason starts with a GAA of 2.22 and a .924 save percentage. Fleury returned to action in the Tampa Bay series for two games, but it looks like Murray is slated to get the start on Monday night.
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San Jose has kept the pressure on offensively with its fourth game in a row of scoring three or more goals. The Sharks have now won five of their last eight playoff games and going back to a 3-2 victory against Los Angeles in Game 4 of that opening round series they have reached the three-goal mark in 12 of 14 postseason games. Returning home, the total has gone OVER or ended as a PUSH in six of their last eight games at the SAP Center.
The trio of Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Logan Coutore have done the bulk of the damage in both this series and the playoffs in general. Pavelski (12 goals, 9 assists) netted two goals and an assist in Monday's win including the eventual game winner in the third period and Thornton (3 goals and 14 assist) added three assists to the winning cause. Couture added an assist to tie Thornton for the team lead in this category this offseason. Martin Jones stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced in goal and his save percentage in the playoffs now stands at .918 with a 2.13 goals-against average in 17 starts.
The Sharks are 4-1 in their last five games against a team from the Eastern Conference and they are 12-5 in their last 17 games on the road. The total has gone OVER in eight of their last 10 Monday games.
The Penguins are 23-7 in their last 30 games at home and they have won five of their last six games against the Western Conference. The total has gone OVER in eight of their last 13 games in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Head-to-head in this matchup, the home team has won 12 of the last 16 meetings and the total has stayed UNDER in five of the last seven meetings in Pittsburgh. These two split a pair of games this season with the road team winning each time.
San Jose Sharks at Pittsburgh Penguins Game 1 Prediction
While the goalies are usually the focal point of any championship series, I am looking for the offensive firepower on both of these teams to set the pace early in this series with a Game 1 matchup that goes OVER the 5.5-goal total line.