Capitals Favored Over Penguins as NHL Playoffs Reach Second Round

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Two of the NHL’s biggest stars will face each other in the postseason for the first time since 2009 when Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals play host to Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday in Game 1 of their second-round set as -130 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The red-hot Penguins have emerged as Stanley Cup contenders following their first-round victory over New York, outscoring the Rangers by a 21-10 margin in their 4-1 series win.

Pittsburgh has now won 18 of their past 21 games heading into Thursday night’s Penguins vs. Capitals betting matchup at Verizon Center, and have clawed their way to the top of the Stanley Cup odds, joining Washington as +375 favorites to raise the hardware in mid-June.

Crosby played a key role in Pittsburgh’s first-round success, tallying eight points in five games. Crosby and Ovechkin last went head-to-head in the second round of the 2009 playoffs; the Penguins took the series in seven en route to a Stanley Cup championship.

This year, however, the Capitals hold the edge in NHL series prices with -130 odds. Washington has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs during Ovechkin’s decade in the nation’s capital. Pittsburgh sports +110 odds on the series prices to return to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2013.

In other Stanley Cup playoff action, it’s a dead heat on the series prices between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, who each sport -110 odds ahead of Game 1 of their second-round series at American Airlines Center on Friday night.

The Blues needed seven games to eliminate the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks in their first-round series, and are 6-1 in their past seven dates with Dallas, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

However, the Stars’ 5-4 loss to Minnesota in Game 5 of their first-round series marked their only defeat in their past nine home dates, and Dallas trailed only Washington during the regular season with 28 victories on home ice.

Elsewhere, the New York Islanders continue to surprise, taking a 1-0 lead in their second-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a 5-3 victory on Wednesday night.

The Islanders entered Game 1 as +123 underdogs on the NHL series prices at the sportsbooks, but should be sporting much more favorable odds when they hit the ice at Amalie Arena for Game 2 on Saturday afternoon.