Man, the Pittsburgh Penguins scorching hot. The Pens beat up the New York Rangers, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals before upsetting this season’s President’s Trophy winners in the Washington Capitals, 4-2, in the Semis. The Penguins now have a chance to make the Stanley Cup Final, but standing in their way are last year’s runners-up, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Lightning have also been pretty good despite missing their leader Steven Stamkos, having beaten the Detroit Red Wings and the New York Islanders to make back-to-back Eastern Conference Final appearances.
For a closer look at this entire series, check out our Eastern Conference Final series preview.
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Lightning vs. Pens Eastern Conference Final Game 1 Preview
Where: Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh
When: Friday, May 13, 2016, 8:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: NBCSN
Betting on the Tampa Bay Lightning
Ben Bishop has put the Tampa Bay Lightning on his shoulders with one solid performance after another. He’s been stellar this postseason, going 8-2 with a 1.80 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Bishop ended the Eastern Conference Semifinal red hot, allowing just one goal over two games, with Game 5’s series-clinching victory over the New York Islanders being a 4-0 shutout victory for the Bolts.
The Lightning may be missing Steven Stamkos, but Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov have filled-in nicely in his absence with a combined 25 points. Kucherov has been the team’s main man on the attack with his nine goals to lead all goal-scorers in the postseason.
The Bolts have been excellent closers in the postseason, as they’ve outscored opponents 13-4 in third periods and 2-0 in overtime.
Betting on the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins had to fight tooth-and-nail in Game 6 against the Washington Capitals. They outplayed the President’s Trophy winners at even strength, but allowed their opponents to gain momentum from power plays. The Caps scored two power play goals in the third period of Game 6, which sent the game into overtime. Luckily, Nick Bonino scored the winning goal on assists from Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel about six minutes into overtime.
If the Pens are to make a run for the Stanley Cup, it’s going to be through captain Sidney Crosby. He hasn’t lit it up in the previous series, with just two assists in six games versus Washington. However, Crosby’s the all-around guy that the Pens need to dominate the ice. He can score, he can set up his teammates, and he can defend. With that in mind, the two-time Art Ross Trophy-winner remains the Pens’ true leader heading into this series.
But of course, the Pens wouldn’t be here if not for their solid rookie goaltender, Matt Murray. He has a .935 save percentage in the playoffs, and he’s gone 7-2 with a 2.11 GAA in his nine starts. Murray should remain solid heading into this game, as he already had his fair share of tight games won by the hair, as well as dominant performances.
The Pens have won their last four home games in this postseason.
The Pens (-170) take Game 1 with a tight 2-1 victory.
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