Two hot Metropolitan Division teams will square off in Pittsburgh on Wednesday when the Penguins (27-18-7) host the New York Rangers (30-18-5) as opening minus-125 home betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark.
Pittsburgh has won two in a row and six of seven behind the stellar play of center Sidney Crosby, who has scored at least one goal in each of the team’s past seven games to fuel the positive run.
Crosby had two goals and two assists in a 6-2 rout of the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, the first time the Penguins were favored in three games. Their only loss since January 18 came on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 last Friday.
The over is 7-1-2 in their last 10 games for totals bettors, according to the Odds Shark NHL Database, which is a sharp contrast to how the past 11 meetings with the Rangers have played out, with the under going 8-3 and cashing in three straight.
New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist obviously had a lot to do with that, as he held Pittsburgh to only one goal in four of five games during their first-round playoff series last April.
Lundqvist also went 3-0 with one overtime loss in four starts against the Penguins during the 2014-15 regular season, stopping 133 of 140 shots (95 percent) for a 1.69 goals-against average with one shutout.
The Rangers have won Lundqvist’s last three starts this year and will be facing Pittsburgh for the first time since that postseason meeting. While Crosby has been on fire lately, the Pens will be missing Evgeni Malkin for the fourth consecutive game due to a knee injury.
Malkin ranks second on the team in scoring behind Crosby with 23 goals and 26 assists, but he did not tally a point against New York in the playoffs.
Washington is the 4-1 favorite on the odds to win the Stanley Cup. Pittsburgh is 14-1, and the Rangers are 18-1. The New York Islanders (28-18-6) are also in the mix for second place, currently sitting in third between the Rangers and Penguins. The Isles are 25-1 to win the Stanley Cup.