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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.

Ewan wins Stage 11; Conti keeps pink jersey in Giro

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NOVI LIGURE, Italy (AP) Caleb Ewan of Australia sprinted to victory on the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday, while Italian cyclist Valerio Conti remained the overall leader.

Ewan, who rides for Lotto-Soudal, edged out Arnaud Demare and Pascal Ackermann in a bunch sprint at the end of the entirely flat 221-kilometer (137-mile) route from Carpi to Novi Ligure.

Conti remained 1 minute, 50 seconds ahead of Slovenian cyclist Primoz Roglic, who is one of the favorites, and 2:21 ahead of Nans Peters of France.

It was the second victory at this year’s Giro for the 24-year-old Ewan, who also won the sprint at the end of the eighth and longest stage on Saturday.

The Giro finishes in Verona on June 2.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Lightning heavy favorites on Stanley Cup odds at all-star break

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The NHL has a team far out in front in the overall standings as it heads into its all-star break – and that might serve to goose the value of other Stanley Cup contenders.

The Tampa Bay Lightning, who have been first overall for most of the season, are the +260 favorite on the latest Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Lightning, with a deep offense led by Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos and a premiere defenseman in Victor Hedman leading their back end, lead the NHL in points, wins, goals scored and goal differential.

The top of the futures board also includes the Western Conference-leading Calgary Flames (+550), San Jose Sharks (+750), Toronto Maple Leafs (+800) and Winnipeg Jets (+800).

As loaded as the Lightning are, the top team in the regular season rarely lifts the Stanley Cup in the spring. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings are the most recent team to finish first overall and go on to win the whole thing in a full 82-game season. Only eight of 33 Presidents’ Trophy winners have also won the Stanley Cup.

Calgary is a solid second favorite, with left wing Johnny Gaudreau and defenseman Mark Giordano being among the NHL’s best at their positions. As a western Canada-based team, the Flames are also likely to fly under the radar of public bettors. Their question mark revolves around goalies David Rittich and Mike Smith having almost no Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Sticking in the Pacific Division, San Jose is a springtime-seasoned team, having made the final in 2016, and their current standing has come with dynamic defenseman Erik Karlsson working his way back to peak form after adapting to a new team.

At this stage of the game, bettors looking for value in a league that prides itself on parity should consider teams with greater than 10/1 odds to win the Stanley Cup. The cluster of teams that includes the Nashville Predators (+1400), Vegas Golden Knights (+1500), New York Islanders (+1600), Pittsburgh Penguins (+1600) and defending champion Washington Capitals (+2000) includes plenty of playoff experience.

The Penguins are always a threat with Sidney Crosby and have weathered injuries, including one to No. 1 goalie Matt Murray, during the first four months of the regular season. The Predators and Golden Knights are the two most recent Western Conference finalists and are both strong puck-possession teams, while the Islanders are under the command of head coach Barry Trotz, who steered Washington to its first Stanley Cup in 2018.

It might be best to fade the Capitals, though, until such time that No. 1 goalie Braden Holtby shows he can recover his past form.

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 Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.