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Penguins home favorites against Blackhawks in marquee Wednesday contest

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With neither team trending upward of late, bettors might want to stick to playing the total when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins face off on Wednesday.

Although Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh are on a three-game losing skid, the Penguins are -125 moneyline favorites against the +105 underdog Blackhawks with a total of six for Wednesday night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Penguins are 7-3 in their last 10 games as a home favorite, but have dropped their last two at home. The Blackhawks, led by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, are 8-2 in their last 10 games as a road underdog but have dropped three of four overall.

One strong trend: Each of these teams is capable of getting into a trading-chances game that can resemble a track meet on ice. The total has gone over seven of the last eight games where Chicago was an underdog on the road. The total has gone over eight of the last nine games where Pittsburgh was favored at home.

The Blackhawks are 48-21-7 on the season, including a 6-4 mark across their last 10 games. Although neither veteran practiced, both defenseman Duncan Keith and right winger Marian Hossa are expected to be in the lineup. Kane has been relatively productive recently with three goals and five points in the last five games, even though he and left winger Artemi Panarin are adapting to having rookie center Tanner Kero between them with Artem Anisimov out of the lineup.

Corey Crawford will get the start for the Blackhawks. Crawford has a 2.50 goals-against average and .923 save percentage so far this month.

The Penguins are 46-18-11, but only 5-5 across their last 10 games. While Crosby is having a MVP-caliber season with 42 goals, a plethora of injuries has caught up to Pittsburgh of late. Star center Evgeni Malkin seems unlikely to play after not practicing on Tuesday.  Defensively, Pittsburgh is minus Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta. Typically, they generate enough offensive zone time and scoring chances to keep the depleted blueline from being a problem.

Crosby should have a boost from having left winger Conor Sheary (lower body) rejoin the lineup on Wednesday. Their linemate Jake Guentzel (concussion) is unlikely to play for at least a week. Penguins right winger Phil Kessel is mired in a March slump with one goal in 14 games this month.

Marc-Andre Fleury started the last time Pittsburgh played Chicago, on March 1. Matt Murray gets the bulk of the work for the Penguins, who are 7-3 in their last 10 home games in March.

The total has gone over in six of the Penguins’ last seven home games against Central Division teams, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

Predators favored against Penguins on betting lines for Game 4

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have an excellent track record as a bounce-back team, but they are giving off some distressing signals against the Nashville Predators going into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The Predators are a -155 moneyline favorite against the +135 underdog Penguins with a 5.5-goal total for Monday’s matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Predators are 9-1 in their last 10 home playoff games, according to the OddsShark NHL Database. Nashville is 11-4 in its last 15 home games as a favorite of -140 to -500 on the moneyline.

Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. The home team has won each of the clubs’ last six meetings.

The Penguins are 13-2 in playoff games after a loss under coach Mike Sullivan and are also 6-4 in in their last 10 playoff games as an underdog on the road. However, star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were each held without a shot on goal during Game 3, a first in their time playing together.

Pittsburgh has also counted on its power play throughout much of its playoff run, but it is only 1-for-13 with the extra skater so far against Nashville. Crosby has yet to score in the series.

Health-wise, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan might have to shuffle his forward lines if center Nick Bonino (left foot) is unable to play. Bonino is listed as doubtful, although he practiced on Sunday. Pittsburgh also needs to create more opportunities for Phil Kessel. While Jake Guentzel has a series-high four goals, those have come on only six shots on goal (hardly a sustainable shooting percentage).

Nashville, which is 13-6 in the playoffs, has been the better team in even-strength play during the course of the series. The Predators are often able to control the tempo of a game due to the defensive foursome of P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, who all have at least 10 points during the playoffs.

While some puck luck played into the 5-1 score during the Predators’ first win against Pittsburgh on Saturday, other key elements included staying out of the penalty box as well as getting an injection of speed from the creation of a line of Frederick Gaudreau, Harry Zolnierczyk and P.A. Parenteau.

Goalie Pekka Rinne (27 saves on 28 shots) also regained his usual form. If that continues, Nashville should have an excellent chance of taking another win at home and reducing the series to a best-of-three.

The total has gone over in seven of Nashville’s last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams. The total has gone over in 11 of Nashville’s last 16 home games (playoffs and regular season) when it was a favorite of -150 to -500 on the moneyline.

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.