Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins – PPG Paints Arena at 00:30

My latest hockey Handicap Betting preview focuses on the series between rivals Pittsburgh and Washington. The Capitals gained a much-needed win in overtime in the last game and can tie the series at 2-2 with a victory tonight. The main talking point from the last game was the cross-check from Caps defenceman Matt Niskanen on Pens captain Sidney Crosby. The latter will not partake in the upcoming game due to being diagnosed with concussion while Niskanen will not receive a suspension for the said hit.

Can Washington Capitalise?

As mentioned in the introduction, Washington can make things all square by beating the Penguins tonight. It will show a side to the Capitals that we have not seen in many of their postseason campaigns. As expected this series has been a swashbuckling affair full of goals and controversy. It has definitely lived up to the hype and as always when these two duel, the subplot between Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. The Russian will not be competing against the opposing captain tonight and will want to exploit this by taking centre stage and upsetting the Pittsburgh faithful in the process.

Defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk got the winner for Washington in OT on Tuesday. He was traded to the Capitals to bolster their playoff opportunities and diffused what could have potentially been a 3-0 series lead to Pittsburgh.

Bounce-back in Pittsburgh?

Can the Pittsburgh Penguins regroup and gain a stranglehold in this high-octane series? If so, they’ll have to without Crosby. The franchise have faced adversity throughout this campaign with injury to key players. Sid the Kid missed the opening games of this campaign due to being diagnosed with concussion. The two-time Maurice Richard Trophy winner has a well-documented history with the head injury. He was sidelined for large periods of the 2010-11 and 2011-12 due to concussion-like symptoms.

Nevertheless, the Pens have another legitimate superstar that they can rely on in Evgeni Malkin. The Centre was pivotal in the dismantling of the Columbus Blue Jackets with 11 points in 5 games. It’s also worth noting that the #2 pick from the 2004 draft won the Conn Smythe (Playoff MVP) in 2009 and he is arguably playing his best hockey in recent years.

Prediction

This is a hard one to predict. Although the Capitals have dominated possession and shots in the games that they were defeated in they have struggled to nullify the top end speed of the Penguins. With this in mind and the home advantage, I’m siding with Pittsburgh to get the win in regulation. The value is really good on the AH market at 2.75 (-0.5).

Goals have been on the cards in this series and I cannot see it changing for this encounter. I envisage a couple of goals to be scored in the third period.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Penguins –0.5 at 2.75 (excluding OT) and over 2 goals in the third period at 2.35

Prices correct at time of writing

By @The_Drewse

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