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US routs Germany 11-0, sets up matchup with Canada for gold

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PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) The U.S. relentlessly dominated Germany, scoring soon after the puck dropped and refusing to relent until the final horn sounded.

Hilary Knight scored 1:06 into the game and Kelli Stack added a goal midway through the first period to give the Americans a cushion that they weren’t content with in an 11-0 victory over the Germans on Thursday night in the women’s hockey world championship semifinals.

“We didn’t want to play down to their pace,” said Kendall Coyne, who scored two of her team’s five goals in the second period. “We want to play up to our pace.”

The Americans will face Canada for gold on Friday night. They’re shooting to win a fourth straight world championship final against the rival Canadians, who beat them in the 2014 Olympics.

“There’s no love lost on the ice,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said. “It gets heated.”

Without needing to break a sweat, Nicole Hensley stopped eight shots for the U.S. for a shutout.

The Germans will face Finland in the bronze-medal game Friday, aiming for their first medal in the International Ice Hockey Federation world championship.

“We’re super motivated,” German goaltender Jennifer Harss said. “We’re super excited. We can’t wait.”

The Finns have won 11 bronze in 17 the women’s world championships.

Harss made a pair of spectacular stops that made the crowd gasp in the first period and kept her team within two goals in the opening period. She was replaced after giving up a seventh goal in the second period and was replaced by Ivonne Schroder, who fared only slightly better in the lopsided laugher.

The Americans didn’t let up in the second, scoring five times in the first 6-plus minutes of the period to take a 7-0 lead that left only the final score in doubt, or until the final horn sounded.

Canada and the U.S. have met in every world championship since the event’s inception in 1990, and the Americans have won six of the last seven.

IIHF President Rene Fasel said it might take another 10 or 15 years for the rest of the world to catch up with the Americans and Canadians.

“The gap is still very big,” Fasel acknowledged before the tournament.

Finland coach Pasi Mustonen doesn’t expect anyone to slow down the U.S.

“The Americans on defense are from another planet they’re so good,” Mustonen said. “They’ve been the best team – by far – in the tournament. Canada can score and has a good goalie, too, but defensively it’s not even close. The Americans are much, much better than everyone else.”

The U.S., just after winning an off-ice fight with USA Hockey for better wages, opened the tournament last week with a 2-0 win over the Canadians and followed that up with a 7-0 rout of Russia and a 5-3 victory against Finland.

The Americans were even more dominant against the Germans, who beat Russia to earn a spot in the semifinals.

Coyne scored on a power play early in the breakout period that turned a 2-0 game into a 7-0 rout. Coyne, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Megan Keller added goals in even-strength situations that were so lopsided it looked as if the U.S. had an extra skater on the ice as it maintained the puck easily and found open space to shoot.

Germany had just five shots entering the third, missing a chance to add a shot and goal in the final seconds of the second period when Kerstin Spielberger failed to control the puck in front of a wide-open net.

The Germans had a power play early in the third, but the Americans possessed the puck for much of the 2-minute stretch. Shortly after killing the penalty, Amanda Pelkey scored off a rebound and later in the period. Stack scored again and Haley Skarupa made it a double-digit game in the third.

Refusing to be satisfied, Alex Carpenter scored with 13.3 seconds left to make it 11-0.

“We’ve had a great tournament so far. Obviously, it’s not done,” Duggan said. “If we play the way we can play, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side.”

 

Capitals Among NHL Betting Favorites on Saturday Playoff Slate

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The law of averages would suggest the Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin are bound to see success at home in the playoffs eventually.

The Capitals are the -165 consensus favorite with the Columbus Blue Jackets coming back at +145 and a 5.5-goal total for their playoff matchup on Saturday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Each team has won twice in the other team’s arena to forge a 2-2 tie in the best-of-seven series, and Washington is just 3-6 in its last nine playoff games at home.

Washington has had the stronger offensive performance in the series, led by the Evgeny Kuznetsov-Ovechkin-Tom Wilson line, and it is 5-1 in its last six home games as a moneyline favorite of -150 to -500. The other development with Washington is that goalie Braden Holtby has retaken the job, after Philipp Grubauer struggled during their two home losses.

Columbus, which is 4-6 in its last 10 away games against Washington, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, may still be without injured forward Alexander Wennberg. The Blue Jackets power play is struggling, so its path to victory likely rests heavily on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stealing the win.

The total has gone over in seven of Columbus’ last 10 away games against the Metropolitan Division. The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last eight home games against the Metropolitan Division.

Elsewhere, the Boston Bruins (-190) have a chance to bounce the Toronto Maple Leafs (+165) in a primetime matchup that has a 5.5-goal total.

The Bruins, who won without No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron on Thursday, are an excellent 8-2 in their last 10 home games when they were a -175 to -500 moneyline favorite. Riley Nash has drawn in between left wing Brad Marchand and right wing David Pastrnak.

Toronto gets key forward Nazem Kadri back from a three-game suspension, but it is only 2-8 in its last 10 games as a +150 moneyline underdog or greater. Six of those losses were by exactly one goal, a sample that might interest puckline bettors.

And the Tampa Bay Lightning (-235) are heavily favored against the New Jersey Devils (+210), with a 6-goal total in the potential closeout game of their series.

The main storyline is that Devils No. 1 defenseman Sami Vatanen (upper body injury) likely won’t play after taking a borderline illegal check from Tampa Bay first-line right wing Nikita Kucherov, who’s been exonerated by the league.

That plays heavily in favor of the Lightning, who are 10-4 in their last 14 home games against Metropolitan Division teams.

The total has gone over in 14 of Tampa Bay’s last 15 home games against Metropolitan teams, so the 6.0 total shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. The total has also gone over in five of the last seven New Jersey-Tampa Bay matchups.

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.

 

NHL Playoffs Betting Preview: Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup Odds Favorites

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The Presidents’ Trophy hex hangs over the Nashville Predators, who have the top Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com at the outset of the NHL playoffs.

After finishing first overall, the Predators are the +375 favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup. However, only one top finisher in the last nine seasons – the Chicago Blackhawks in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign – has gone on to win the Cup. Also, not since the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins has the Cup winner also been the previous season’s runner-up.

That said, with a well-balanced lineup from the goal out, where Pekka Rinne looms, Nashville is a worthy favorite. There just might be more value lower on the board.

Two Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins (+550) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+600), are high up, although no more than one of them will get past the second round. The Vegas Golden Knights (+750) have a tempting price, but they are, after all, a first-year team.

Three of the last four Presidents’ Trophy winners lost in the second round, where the dangerous Winnipeg Jets (+800) could face Nashville. The two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins (+1000) cannot be ruled out, thanks to the presence of Sidney Crosby, but whoever wins the Metropolitan Division will have a tough Eastern Conference final opponent from the Atlantic.

The Penguins (-225) are big favorites on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks against the Philadelphia Flyers (+195) in their Metropolitan matchup. The Flyers have been a streaky team and that typically bodes poorly against the Penguins.

The Washington Capitals (-125) are not all that deep into minus money against the Columbus Blue Jackets (+105), but captain Alex Ovechkin had a bounce-back season at age 32. Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Boston Bruins (-160), counting on six rookie regulars, could have some patchy spots in their lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs (+140) in their Atlantic matchup. Toronto won the season series 3-1, while Boston had a string of slow starts to games in the regular season.

The Lightning (-300), who led the NHL in goals scored, should have sufficient firepower to wear down the wild-card New Jersey Devils (+250).

Thanks to the Jets’ shallow playoff history, Winnipeg (-190) carries value against the Minnesota Wild (+165) in a Central Division matchup. The Wild’s defense is in shambles with Ryan Suter (ankle) sidelined and Jared Spurgeon just back from a hamstring injury.

Nashville (-400) could make short work of the depleted Colorado Avalanche (+330). Colorado will not have No. 1 defenseman Erik Johnson or goalie Semyon Varlamov for the series.

The Anaheim Ducks (-120) and San Jose Sharks (even) meet in a Pacific Division matchup, where the main question is the status of Ducks goalie John Gibson. The outlook could shift quickly if Gibson is not 100 per cent. San Jose’s trade-deadline pickup of Evander Kane could also do wonders for its scoring depth.

And Vegas (-130) could find trouble translating its offense-oriented game into success against the Los Angeles Kings (+110). The Kings allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and also had the most efficient penalty kill.

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.