The Nashville Predators enter tonight as the NHL betting favorites to win their second ever Stanley Cup finals game after the Preds defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 on Saturday. Red-hot rookie Jake Guentzel gave the Pens an early lead – becoming the first player to score in each of the first three games of a Cup Final in 20 years – but Nashville scored five straight goals. The Penguins attack had no edge; forward Nick Bonino was scratched with a lower-body injury while Sid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin did not have a shot on goal for the first time together in a postseason game.
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Bridgestone Arena
Sportsbook odds for fans who bet on hockey:
Penguins +1½ (-240) 5½ (+110) +135
Predators -1½ (+200) 5½ (-130) -155
Need-to-know info: Bonino practiced on Sunday at Bridgestone Arena. The forward risked life and limb in order to block a shot from PK Subban in Game 2 on Wednesday. The Pens are 1-for-13 on the power play with four shots on goal in the Stanley Cup Final. Assistant coach Rick Tocchet wants Phil Kessel to shoot more in game 4. Goalie Matt Murray allowed five goals on 33 shots on Sunday but he is undefeated in games following a loss in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Trends for fans who bet on hockey: The Pens have been struggling on the road – they have lost two of their last six road games and have covered in only one of those games. However, Pittsburgh has prevailed in two thirds of their last six visits to Nashville. The NHL betting total has gone over in five of the Penguins’ last six meetings with the Preds.
Need-to-know info: Guentzel is not the only rookie turning heads. Undrafted rookie Frederick Gaudreau has a team-best two goals in the Stanley Cup Final – not bad for a guy who had only played nine games in the NHL before this postseason. Gaudreau scored 25 goals for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals this season. Similarly, Harry Zolnierczyk played only 24 regular-season games but the Preds are 8-1 in the playoffs when he is in the lineup. All things considered though, it has been a team-wide effort; 19 Nashville players have scored goals in 19 playoff games. “I think our guys have done a really good job of just stepping up,” head coach Peter Laviolette. “Colton Sissons is a good example, [Pontus] Aberg, Gaudreau being able to contribute. Whoever is called upon, coming into the lineup, helping out… guys have done an amazing job of coming in and contributing.”
Trends for fans who bet on hockey: The Preds have won 13 of their last 19 games but have lost 10 of their last 13 encounters with the Pens. They also are 8-1 at Bridgestone Arena in the postseason. Nashville is 14-7 against the spread in the last 21 contests and 2-4 ATS in the last six versus Pittsburgh. The NHL betting total has gone over in five of the Predators’ last six games versus the Penguins.