A berth in the Stanley Cup Final will be on the line on Thursday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final as -200 betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Pittsburgh avoided being ousted from the playoffs on Tuesday, posting a decisive 5-2 win to even the series at three games apiece heading into Thursday night’s Lightning vs. Penguins betting matchup at Consol Energy Centre.
The Penguins had entered the series as strong -180 favorites on the NHL series prices, but have had their hands full against a Tampa Bay squad that pushed them to the brink of elimination despite being outshot in all six games.
With each team posting a pair of road victories in the series having home-ice advantage in Game 7 may be of little comfort to the Penguins, who were 14-3 in their previous 17 home contests.
Pittsburgh must also reverse a worrisome three-game losing streak in Game 7’s since claiming their most recent Stanley Cup championship in 2009, with all three defeats coming at home including a 1-0 loss to the Lightning in Game 7 of the 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will likely get the call between the pipes once again for the Lightning on Thursday. The 21-year-old has filled in admirably for starter Ben Bishop, who remains sidelined by injury, giving the Lightning a chance to win despite seeing an average of over 38 shots per night in the series.
Overall, Tampa Bay is a respectable 7-4 in their past 11 meetings with the Penguins, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, including three wins in Pittsburgh, while Vasilevskiy’s strong performance has lifted his career record against the Penguins to 5-3.
Despite the Lightning’s recent success against Pittsburgh, and the Penguins’ struggle to close the deal in recent Game 7’s, Tampa Bay continues to trail on the Stanley Cup odds, sitting at +400, well back of the Penguins, who enjoy short +160 odds.
The San Jose Sharks patiently await the winner of Thursday night’s game after clinching a berth in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history with a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues, capturing the Western Conference crown in six games.
The Sharks entered the postseason well back of the favorites at +1600 on the Stanley Cup odds, and have now won two of their three playoff series after being pegged as early underdogs on the NHL series prices.