Red-hot Kane, Blackhawks carry strong trends into game against Penguins

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Not only will Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks get the Pittsburgh Penguins on the second night of a back-to-back, but they also take some strong trends into their home game against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Wednesday night.

The Blackhawks are the -130 favorite against the +120 underdog Penguins with a 5.5-goal total in their NHL betting matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Blackhawks are one of the hottest teams in the NHL with a 9-1 straight-up record over their last 10 games; the OddsShark NHL Database also shows an identical 9-1 record in their last 10 home games and an 8-2 record in their last 10 home games against Eastern Conference teams.

The Penguins, who lost to the lowly Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, are 5-5 in their last 10 games where they played the previous day.

Led by the indefatigable Sidney Crosby, the Penguins are 38-15-8 this season, although a spate of injuries to several defensemen has contributed to them going 5-5 over their last 10 home games. Kris Letang (upper body) is among the defensemen out of the lineup and his absence affects the Penguins, who are 4-6 in their last 10 road games against Western Conference teams.

However, with Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as their top two centers, the Penguins are almost always able to generate offense. Recently-acquired veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey is also getting more comfortable with his new team.

Chicago is 39-18-5 on the year as it tries to chase down the Minnesota Wild for first place in the Central Division. Starting goalie Corey Crawford (illness) will be held out on Wednesday night with backup Scott Darling getting the call. Chicago is 11-5 in Darling’s last 16 starts. One notable absence for the Blackhawks is that of defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body), who is out until at least next week. Chicago did swing a trade on Tuesday for veteran Johnny Oduya to plug that hole.

The Blackhawks were hot in February, with Kane scoring nine goals in 10 games while captain Jonathan Toews has seven in his last 10. With fresher legs than Pittsburgh, they stand a good chance of having the run of the play.

The total has gone under in five of Pittsburgh’s last six road games on the NHL betting lines. The total has gone under eight of the last 10 games where Pittsburgh was playing the second of back-to-back games. The total has gone over in nine of Chicago’s last 10 games, as well as seven of the Blackhawks’ last nine home games.

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.