The Nashville Predators and the NHL betting-favored Pittsburgh Penguins enter tonight’s game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals tied two games apiece. Wait, a competitive professional sports playoffs series where both sides are evenly matched and any one team could win therefore not making the outcome a completely foregone conclusion? What a breath of fresh, cool air. When it comes to suspense, nuance, and subtlety, the NHL is the Alfred Hitchcock to the NBA’s Michael Bay. Perhaps that is the reason the game is played on ice.
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: PPG Paints Arena
Sportsbook odds for fans who bet on hockey:
Predators +1½ (-240) 5½ (+115) +130
Penguins -1½ (+200) 5½ (-135) -150
Need-to-know info: Rookie Frederick Gaudreau scored his third Stanley Cup Final goal and second straight go-ahead goal while goaltender Pekka Rinne made 23 saves to help the Preds beat the Pens 4-1 on Monday. Viktor Arvidsson, Calle Jarnkrok, and Filip Forsberg also scored. This series has been a rollercoaster for Rinne; he has gone from Conn Smythe Trophy candidate to allegedly almost stepping down for Juuse Saros and back again. However, head coach Peter Laviolette confirmed that the rumors of his pulling out Rinne were greatly exaggerated.
Trends for fans who bet on hockey: The Preds won their first-ever SCF home games back-to-back and improved their home record to 9-1 this postseason. Having said that, Nashville has lost five of the last seven on the road, 10 of the last 14 encounters with the Penguins, and six of the last seven visits to Pittsburgh. The Preds are more like to cover on the road, though – they are 9-3 against the spread in their last 12 road games. The NHL betting total has gone over in five of the Predators’ last seven games versus the Pens.
Need-to-know info: On Monday Captain Sid Crosby scored his first SCF goal since game four of the 2009 finals against the Red Wings. The game-tying score came at 15:57 of the first period, but it was all Predators from there. The Pens were once again without forward Nick Bonino, who has missed two-straight games with a lower-body injury. Goalie Matt Murray has allowed eight goals on 58 shots in the last two games but don’t hold your breath waiting for head coach Mike Sullivan to start Marc-Andre Fleury tonight. As Laviolette and Rinne, Sullivan has nothing but confidence in Murray. Coincidentally, Rinne allowed nine goals in the first two games of the series only to come through big time in the next two – the opposite of Murray. One more proof that home ice is everything in these finals.
Trends for fans who bet on hockey: The Penguins have dropped two straight games but have won their last five at home. While the Pens have covered only in three of their last 11 overall games, they are 9-4 against the spread in the last 13 home games. The NHL betting total has gone over in five of Pitt’s last seven meetings with the Predators.