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

My first NHL Handicap Betting preview of the week turns my attention back to the feisty Washington-Pittsburgh Eastern Conference semi-final. The Capitals scored three unanswered goals in the third period yesterday to remain in the series and will need to show that cutting edge once again to force a game 7.

Can Washington force a game 7?

The Capitals showed great character to overturn their one-goal deficit to the Penguins in the third period. They will need to build on from this momentum to force a game 7 back to Washington. This game will demonstrate whether the Caps are contenders or pretenders for the Stanley Cup. It would be another disappointing campaign should they bow out in the second round once again to the Penguins.

Despite being on the backfoot for the series, a number of Washington players have performed well. One of the players to emerge in this series is Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Russian has arguably played a more pivotal role than his compatriot and captain Alex Ovechkin. He has already eclipsed his poor postseason last year when he tallied just two points in 12 games. This was following his breakout campaign last regular season when he scored 77 points.

Cool heads needed for Pittsburgh

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will be calling for cool heads following the setback in the third period. Pittsburgh are on the verge of reaching back-to-back conference finals, a statement that would have been very laughable at the end of 2015 following the dismissal of Mike Johnston. The Pens haven’t looked back since then and have been going from strength-to-strength under Sullivan’s tutelage with a Stanley Cup to boot.

The biggest news prior to Pittsburgh’s defeat was the swift return of Sidney Crosby. The captain was diagnosed with concussion following the cross-check by Matt Niskanen in game 3. Although Crosby didn’t score on his return he got an assist and had three shots on goal with 19:10 minutes of ice-time.

The Penguins don’t want to be playing too close with fire as they have two more attempts to end Washington’s post season.

Prediction

Similar to my last preview covering this duel, I’m siding with the Penguins to prevail here. There’s some great profit on offer as well on the Asian Handicap market, with Pittsburgh to win in regulation at 2.46 (-0.5).  The PPG Paints Arena will be awash with Pittsburgh Gold and I believe that the Pens will respond to their supporters rallying call.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Penguins –0.5 at 2.46 (excluding OT)

Prices correct at time of writing

By @The_Drewse

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