Penguins favored against the Capitals for remainder of series

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The Pittsburgh Penguins will be attempting to push the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination in their second-round playoff series when they host the Presidents’ Cup winners in Game 4 on Wednesday as small -120 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Pittsburgh handed Washington their eighth loss in the past 14 games in Game 3, getting past the Capitals by a 3-2 score on the strength of a 47-save performance by rookie goaltender Matt Murray, who has been tagged with just one loss in his past 13 starts heading into Wednesday night’s Capitals vs. Penguins betting matchup at Consol Energy Center.

The loss adds to existing frustration for the Capitals, who dropped to 3-6 in their past nine games when outshooting opponents, including their past two in which they have tallied 40 or more shots on goal.

The Capitals’ recent swoon also adds to the growing pressure they face to fulfill their promise in the postseason after coming up short in each of their past four second-round appearances, and failing to reach the Eastern Conference Final since making their sole Stanley Cup Final appearance back in 1999.

For the Penguins, their win in Game 3 extends a hot streak that has seen them claim victory in 20 of their past 24 contests, lifting them past Washington to -130 favorites on the NHL series prices, and to +260 chalk on the odds to win the Stanley Cup.

While the Capitals finished a full 16 points ahead of Pittsburgh during the regular season, the Penguins have held the edge in head-to-head meetings, going 6-3 over their past nine matchups despite outscoring their Metropolitan Division rivals by a slim 28-24 margin.

Five of the last six meetings between these two clubs have been settled by a single goal, however the total has played UNDER just twice over their past nine clashes, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Suspensions and injuries have also taken their toll on both clubs, with Penguins blueliner Olli Maatta sidelined indefinitely as a result of an illegal hit by Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik, who continues to miss time after being suspended for three games.

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang will also miss Game 4 after being handed a one-game suspension for a hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3.

Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime but grabbed a 2-1 lead in their second-round series with the New York Islanders with a 5-4 overtime win on Tuesday night. That ended a three-game road losing streak against the Islanders for Tampa Bay, and will strengthen their odds on the NHL series prices which had sat at -130.

The Lightning and the Islanders will next meet in Game 4 of their series in Brooklyn on Friday.

Pittsburgh Penguins among road betting favorites in Wednesday NHL action

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One reason why the Pittsburgh Penguins of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have won the last two Stanley Cups is their killer instinct in the early stages.

With the NHL playoffs at the midpoint of the first round, the Penguins are a -140 moneyline favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com against the rival Philadelphia Flyers with a 6-goal total for Wednesday’s Game 4 matchup.

The OddsShark NHL Database shows that the Penguins are 8-4 in their last 12 road games during the playoffs in April. Pittsburgh, which is ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, has also scored exactly five goals in four of their last five road games against the Flyers.

Philadelphia, which is just 4-8 in its last 12 home games as a moneyline underdog of +120 to +150, has issues with two of its key forwards. Captain Claude Giroux has zero goals and one assist in the series’ three games, while center Sean Couturier (undisclosed) was injured after colliding with a teammate in practice on Tuesday.

The total has gone over in 11 of the Penguins’ last 13 road games. The total has also gone over in six of the Penguins’ last eight games against the Flyers.

The Tampa Bay Lightning (-144) are favored against the New Jersey Devils (+130) for their Game 4 matchup on Wednesday. However, Tampa Bay is only 5-5 in its last 10 games as a road favorite and two core players, right wing Ryan Callahan (shoulder) and left wing Tyler Johnson (held out of practice Tuesday) are question marks. The Devils are 8-4 in their last 12 games. The total has gone over in five of the Devils’ last six games.

Bettors have to weigh recency against sample sizes with the Nashville Predators (-165), who are deep into minus money against the Colorado Avalanche (+149), even though Colorado won in Game 3 of the series on Monday.

Nashville has lost three of the last four games when it was a road favorite and has given up the first goal in each game of this series. However, the Predators are 11-4 in their last 15 games as a road favorite. The Avalanche and center Nathan MacKinnon are 8-2 as a home underdog since Christmas. Each defeat was against Nashville, but only one of those 10 matchups was against a non-playoff team.

The total has gone over in eight of Nashville’s last 10 road games against fellow Central Division teams. The total has gone over in seven of Colorado’s last nine home games against Central teams.

And the San Jose Sharks (-169), the only home team which is favored on Wednesday, are trying to complete a sweep against the Anaheim Ducks (+152). The Sharks’ best defenseman, Brent Burns (undisclosed), has an injury situation to monitor, but they are 11-4 in their last 15 home games against Anaheim. The Ducks are 0-4 in their last four games as an underdog on the road.

The total has also gone over in seven of Anaheim’s last 10 playoff games when it was an underdog on the road.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Capitals, Holtby heavy favorites hosting Rangers on Wednesday night

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Each team has its No. 1 goaltender due back from injury, but recent trends suggest that’s more likely to help the Washington Capitals than the New York Rangers.

The Metropolitan-leading Capitals are the -260 favorites on the NHL odds and the Rangers come back as +215 underdogs with a 6-goal total for their matchup on Wednesday night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Late regular-season NHL games between Stanley Cup contenders such as the Capitals and also-rans such as the Rangers are prone to becoming moneyline mismatches. Washington, which is 9-1 in their last 10 home games as a moneyline favorite of -200 to -500, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, has only gone deeper into minus money on home ice four times in the last three seasons. The Rangers are 3-7 in their last 10 games as a moneyline underdog of +150 or higher.

The Rangers, whose 33-35-8 record includes a 12-20-4 road mark, are playing out the string and evaluating younger players, such as Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil. This will be their fifth consecutive road game where the opponent’s line was -200 or lower. New York lost the previous four and total finished over in all four matchups.

Veteran goalie Henrik Lundqvist (upper body) has missed three games in a row but is expected to start for New York. Lundqvist is 21-12-4 with a 2.65 goals-against average and .908 save percentage against the Capitals during his career.

The Capitals are 45-24-7, including a stellar 26-9-2 home record, as they push to finish at the top of their division. Veteran left wing Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 45 goals, has helped Washington go 8-2 in its last 10 home games against Metropolitan Division rivals. Washington coach Barry Trotz, whose team is on a six-game home win streak, has a healthy lineup at his disposal.

Washington has won by at least two goals in five of its last 10 games as a home favorite of -200 to -500, so the minus-1.5 goals puck line contains some value.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby (lower-body injury) is expected to start after being spelled by Philipp Grubauer when these same two teams played in New York on Monday. Over his career, Holtby is 9-9-1 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .918 save percentage against the Rangers.

The teams’ over/under splits are nearly identical, with the over holding a 19-17 mark in Rangers’ road games and a 19-17-1 mark in Capitals’ home games.

The total has gone under in five of New York’s last six home games when it was a moneyline  underdog of +200 or higher. The total has gone under in six of Washington’s last nine home games when it was a moneyline favorite of -225 to -500.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.