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Penguins host Flyers as favorites at Heinz Field on Saturday night

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With a depleted defense corps, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins could be vulnerable against the Philadelphia Flyers when they take their cross-state rivalry outside on Saturday night.

The Penguins are a -206 betting favorite against the +185 Flyers with a 5.5-goal total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in their NHL Stadium Series matchup, which will take place at Heinz Field on Saturday night.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins are dealing with injuries to a quartet of defensemen, with Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee) and Justin Schultz (concussion) all banged up.

But as one would expect of a team led by Crosby, the Penguins don’t squander opportunities when they’re a big favorite. The OddsShark NHL Database shows the Penguins are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 home games as a favorite with a moneyline of -200 to -500.

Philadelphia is 28-25-7 on the season, including a 2-6 mark in their last eight games. The Flyers need to start winning soon in order to stay in the Eastern Conference wild card race, and need the likes of C Claude Giroux and C Brayden Schenn to pick up the pace offensively.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start for the Flyers, but has a 2.38 goals-against average and just an .894 save percentage since the all-star break.

The Flyers are overdue for an upset win on the road. They are 1-11 in their last dozen games as the road underdog. Their track record when the odds are really against them is closer to respectability; they are 3-7 in their last 10 road games as an underdog with a moneyline of -150 to -500.

Pittsburgh is 37-14-8 on the season, but injuries on the back end have led to a modest 6-4 record over their last 10 games. With Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Matt Cullen, the Penguins are one of the strongest teams in the NHL down the middle.

Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey, who was picked up by the Penguins on Thursday in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, and will make his Pittsburgh debut. But the Penguins are going to be a shaky pick as long as they are relying on replacement-level rearguards such as Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy.

In spite of the instability on the blue line – and the NHL’s midseason mandating of more form-fitting goalie pants – Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray has a 1.82 goals-against average and a .938 save percentage since the all-star break. The Penguins are also 16-4 in their last 20 home games as the favorite.

For whatever it is worth, the Penguins are 1-2 all-time in outdoor games. The Flyers are 0-2.

The total has gone over in eight of Pittsburgh’s last 11 home games as the favorite. The total has also gone over in seven of Pittsburgh’s last 10 home games against its division.

Predators take 2-1 lead into Game 4 vs. Ducks as clear betting favorites

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As great as their record at home in the playoffs is, the Nashville Predators also consistently take care of business when installed as a big favorite, be it home or away.

The Predators are -140 betting favorites against the +120 underdog Anaheim Ducks with a five-goal total in their Game 4 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Nashville is 10-0 straight-up in its last 10 home playoff games and the OddsShark NHL Database also reveals that the team is 12-3 in their last 15 games as favorite of -135 to -500 on the moneyline. Eight of the last nine games within that sample have gone under. Nashville is also 5-2 SU in its last seven home games against Anaheim, including a win on Tuesday that gave it a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Final.

Anaheim, who is 13-7 overall in its last 20 games, faces a virtual must-win situation. The Ducks will need to do a better job screening and obscuring the sight lines of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne than they did during Game 3. The trend in the series has been that Anaheim, whose forward corps is led by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg, has been getting fewer shots on goal and fewer shot attempts than Nashville. Perry scored in Game 3, but had only two total shots.

John Gibson will start in goal for Anaheim, which will be missing Kevin Bieksa, Patrick Eaves and Logan Shaw due to injuries.

Nashville, which is 12-8 overall in its last 20 games, might well be the smart-money choice to win the Stanley Cup even though they had the fewest points in the regular season of any playoff team.

The Predators have a deep cadre of offensively astute defensemen in Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Roman Josi and P.K. Subban. During Game 3 on Tuesday, the Predators’ defensemen took more shots on goal (21) than the entire Ducks team. Filip Forsberg has scored in all three games of the series and has a total of 13 shots on goal.

While the Predators seem to have all the momentum, Anaheim has lost back-to-back games only twice within its last 30 games overall.

The total has gone over in five of Anaheim’s last seven games on the road heading into the Game 4 matchup on Thursday. The total has gone under in nine of Nashville’s last 12 home games, with two pushes. Overall, the team scoring the first goal is 48-25 during the playoffs this year.

Pittsburgh Penguins Game 3 betting favorites facing the Senators in Ottawa

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Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins keep losing players without being any worse for wear, but a general assumption of that continuing could boost prices on the underdog Ottawa Senators.

The Penguins are a -130 moneyline favorite against the +110 underdog Senators with a 5-goal total in their Game 3 matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Over the last five seasons the Penguins are 7-4 straight-up in 11 games as a road favorite during the month of May, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. While some offensively gifted teams can get frustrated by the suffocating defensive tactics deployed in playoff hockey, the Penguins have had seven of their last nine games in May go UNDER and have managed to go 5-4 in those contests.

The Eastern Conference final is tied 1-1 heading into the Game 3 matchup, with the two teams having combined for a paltry four goals. Pittsburgh has also come away with injuries to D Justin Schultz (shoulder) and RW Bryan Rust (upper body). Ottawa could have LW Viktor Stalberg (lower body) back as it looks to generate more offense.

The Penguins, 13-7 in their last 20 games overall, did not score during the first two periods of either of the series’ first two games as they struggled to solve Ottawa’s 1-3-1 defensive alignment. It was not for lack of trying, as Crosby and Malkin’s respective lines generated a lot of shots and effectively played keepaway.

If Schultz is unable to play, Pittsburgh will be ever more reliant on D Olli Maatta to help create offensive rushes that negate Ottawa’s trapping techniques.

The Senators, 10-10 in their last 20 games overall, had just 29 even-strength shot attempts in Game 2, when they were shut out and barely tested Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. However, they are 6-3 in their last nine home games as an underdog of +110 or more on the moneyline.

The change of venue to the Canadian Tire Centre means Ottawa’s most reliable offensive players such as RW Bobby Ryan, C Kyle Turris and C Jean-Gabriel Pageau will have more favorable line matchups. And, of course, Ottawa has an X-factor with playmaking defenseman Erik Karlsson.

Ottawa is 9-1 over its last 10 home games against Metropolitan Division teams, but trends such as that are hard to sustain in the parity-driven NHL. The total has gone UNDER in these teams’ last four meetings.