The Pittsburgh Penguins head to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Rangers in a possible first-round playoff preview. It's time to continue our NHL odds series with a Penguins-Rangers prediction and pick.
The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres in upstate New York on Wednesday night. Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby each scored a goal and had an assist. Additionally, Bryan Rust contributed with two assists.
Subsequently, the Penguins battled back from three deficits before it finally fell in the shootout. Backup goalie Casey DeSmith allowed three goals on 33 shots. He gave up the winning goals in the shootout to Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch, as the Sabres won the extra round 2-0.
Pittsburgh is in second place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes. The Penguins are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.
The Rangers fell 7-4 to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night. Igor Shesterkin struggled, giving up five goals on 24 shots. All five goals occurred in the second period. Therefore, the Rangers pulled him from the game after two periods. Backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev did not fare much better, allowing two goals on seven shots. Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad, and defenseman Adam Fox each scored a goal and an assist. Andrew Copp added to the tally with two assists.
The Rangers are in third place in the Metropolitan Division and are three points behind the Penguins. New York is 6-4 over its last 10 games. This is the first of three matches with the Penguins over the next two weeks that serves as a possible playoff preview, and a battle for playoff seeding.
Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Penguins-Rangers odds.
NHL Odds: Penguins-Rangers Odds
Penguins: -1.5 (+220)
Rangers: +1.5 (-280)
Over: 6 (+100)
Under: 6 (-122)
*Watch NHL Games LIVE with fuboTV (click for free trial)*
Why The Penguins Could Cover The Spread
Pittsburgh has thoroughly dominated this series in recent memory, including a 1-0 shutout home win over the Penguins on Feb. 26. In the last 10 games in this series, the Penguins have won seven. Going further back, Pittsburgh has won 13 of 20 games in this series. The last time these teams met at the Garden, Pittsburgh thumped the Rangers 5-2 on April 9, 2021. This matchup is the first meeting of the season at the world's most famous arena, and Pittsburgh will look to repeat the blueprint from the last game.
In the February shutout win, goalie Tristan Jarry stopped all 27 shots the Rangers flung at him. He faced six shots from Kreider. The Rangers had no answer for him. Jarry is 23-12-6 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. Malkin scored the lone Penguins goal on assists from Crosby and Rust. It also helps that the Penguins are spectacular on the penalty kill.
The Penguins rank first in the NHL in killing penalties, which could help if they face Artemi Panarin or Fox on the extra man. The Rangers are the second-best ranked team on the extra-man attack, so this is the most interesting matchup to watch. Pittsburgh also has played well defensively, limiting opportunities. The Penguins rank fifth in the league in goals allowed, and they force every team to earn their points. Their style of play matches well with the Rangers and has stalled the talented scorers New York possesses.
Pittsburgh will cover the spread if it can limit New York's opportunities and control the pace of the game. Stopping Panarin is the key, as the Penguins did not let him beat them last time. If Pittsburgh can slow down Panarin and Fox, a cover is in play.
Why The Rangers Could Cover The Spread
New York has put itself in a playoff spot behind the power of elite scorers and the superb play of Shesterkin. He is 30-9-3 with a 2.14 goals-against average. His .936 save percentage is the best in the NHL, and he is in consideration for the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the best goalie at the end of the regular season. Despite his performance on Tuesday, Shesterkin did shut down the Tampa Bay Lightning in the game before that. Above all, he clamped down on Tampa Bay, allowing one goal on 28 shots. The Rangers are fourth in the NHL in goals allowed, and Shesterkin has been at the center of it.
The Rangers have a plethora of scoring threats that give them the edge. Kreider has 42 goals on the season, while Panarin has 57 assists. Additionally, Fox has 42 assists. The Rangers are a force on the extra-man attack, as New York ranks second in power-play percentage. If the Rangers can get the extra-man attack, it will provide a challenge to the Penguins' vaunted penalty-kill unit.
The Rangers could cover the spread if they don't let Crosby or Malkin beat them, and they convert on their opportunities against Pittsburgh.
Final Penguins-Rangers Prediction & Pick
These teams trade shots often. Pittsburgh did win the last match at the Garden but lost a previous game just days before by four goals. The Rangers will come out strong, looking to rebound from an embarrassing defeat. New York will pull off the win.
Final Penguins-Rangers Prediction & Pick: Rangers Moneyline (+100)