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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.”

 

Golden Knights betting favorites for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final

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Being up three games to one has often been a dangerous series lead for the Washington Capitals, which might be why the Vegas Golden Knights are favored to stave off elimination in the Stanley Cup final on Thursday night.

 

While Washington is one win away from its first Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights are a -145 moneyline favorite and the Capitals come back as a +125 underdog with a 5.5-goal total for Game 5 at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

 

In the league’s history, teams that have been up 3-1 in the Stanley Cup final have gone on to win the championship 32 of 33 times, including 31 in a row.

 

More in the here and now, Washington is 9-3 in 12 away games during the playoffs. Three of the four teams that had 10 road wins in a single postseason have won the Stanley Cup. Vegas is 7-3 in its last 10 home games as moneyline favorite of -135 to -200, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

 

The Capitals franchise has the dubious distinction of having lost five playoff series after leading 3-1, which is an NHL record. However, Washington’s top three centers, Evgeny Kuznetsov (playoff-leading 31 points), Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller, have generally outplayed their Vegas counterparts in this series.

 

Washington goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in the playoffs, with two shutouts.

 

The basis for backing the Golden Knights is that they have lacked puck luck, never more so than when left wing James Neal hit the post with a wide-open net when Game 4 was still scoreless on Monday. Top-line center William Karlsson, who did not practice on Wednesday, has been struggling, with only five recorded shots in four games during the Stanley Cup final and only three points in Vegas’ last seven games, well below his averages for the full season.

 

Vegas’ second and third lines, centered by Erik Haula and Cody Eakin, haven’t been able to cover for the dip in production from the Karlsson line.

 

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 2.15 goals-against average and .929 save percentage with four shutouts in the playoffs. Fleury’s average has risen by almost half a goal during the last four games.

 

While it’s a small sample, the Capitals have had the special teams edge, as their power play is 4-for-12 (33.3 per cent) in the series. The Golden Knights are 2-for-12 (16.7 per cent).

 

The total has gone under in 14 of the Capitals’ last 18 games against Pacific Division teams. The total has also gone under in seven of the Golden Knights’ last seven games against Eastern Conference teams.

 

If Vegas wins and avoids elimination, the Capitals will host Game 6 on Sunday.

 

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.

 

Stanley Cup Final heads to Washington with Capitals Game 3 betting favorites

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The Vegas Golden Knights have produced value for bettors by playing the perfect road game, while the Washington Capitals are dealing with an injury to first-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov.

The Capitals are a -125 moneyline favorite while the Golden Knights are a +105 underdog and the total is at 5.5 for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The teams head into the matchup at Capital One Arena on Saturday with a two-day respite since splitting two games on Vegas’ home ice, reducing the NHL championship series to a best-of-5.

The OddsShark NHL Database notes that the Golden Knights, a first-year expansion team, are 6-2 in their last eight games as an away underdog. The under has hit in five of those contests, with two pushes. The Capitals are 2-4 in their last six home games as a favorite of -100 to -130. Overall, Washington is 4-5 at home during the playoffs, which suggests there is a strong chance of the series being tied again after Game 4.

The Golden Knights were only 8-8 during their 16 road games against Eastern Conference teams and bettors must decide whether their road record in the playoffs reflects more on their talent or how Vegas matched up with early-rounds opponents who had less team speed.

Vegas has a 73-54 edge in recorded shots on goal so far in the series, but its William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault-Reilly Smith first line will need to be creative to get loose from the Capitals’ mobile defense unit.

Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has a 1.88 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage in the playoffs after allowing seven goals on 54 shots in the past two games. Fleury has not gone three games in a row all season with save percentages of less than .900.

For the Capitals, their foremost concern is whether Kuznetsov, who practiced on Friday after coming out of Game 2 early holding his left arm, will be able to take his No. 1 center spot between left wing Alex Ovechkin and right wing Tom Wilson. The Capitals’ adjustment during Game 2 was to put Nicklas Backstrom up on the Ovechkin line, with rookie left wing Jakub Vrana helping the second line generate more shot attempts than their Vegas counterparts.

Washington goalie Braden Holtby has a 2.19 goals-against average and .921 save percentage during the playoffs. Holtby is coming off a 37-save performance during Washington’s win in Game 2 and also had a shutout in the Capitals’ previous home game.

The total has gone under in Vegas’ last five road games against Eastern Conference teams, although the most recent contest in the sample was on March 12. The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last nine home games against Western Conference teams

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.