The rivalry between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals fires once again on Thursday with first place in the East on the line. Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will miss his third straight game with a lower-body injury. Capitals defenseman John Carlson is a game-time decision, as is Penguins star center, Evgeni Malkin.
Let’s take a look at this matchup from a betting perspective in our Penguins vs. Capitals betting preview with odds, picks and predictions.
Malkin has missed 21 straight games, but he traveled with the team to Washington after taking part in practice Wednesday in Pittsburgh. He didn’t join in the top-four line rushes, but he could be a surprise addition to the lineup.
It all adds an aura of intrigue to what is already the most anticipated two games of the season in the East Division between two teams who met six times in the first six weeks of the season but have not seen each other since Feb. 25.
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Capitals vs. Penguins Betting Pick
These two teams have been mirror images of each other since the last time they played. The Capitals are 22-8-0 in 30 games, which is the fourth-best mark in the league. The Penguins have gone 22-8-2 in 32 games, which is the sixth-best in points percentage.
Now, the teams sit just one point apart in the standings with Washington currently on top. The Capitals have seven games remaining, the Penguins have six.
The Penguins had their four-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night in a 3-1 home loss to Boston. Of note, the Penguins have been dominant at home but are a mediocre 12-11-1 on the road this season.
Meanwhile, Washington is on a three-game winning streak and has won seven of their last nine games. During their recent streak, all against the New York Islanders, the Capitals held the Isles without a full-strength goal. That streak actually extends back to the second period of an April 18 loss to Boston and the in-game streak is now over 207 minutes.
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Capitals vs. Penguins Odds
Here are the lines for Penguins vs. Capitals at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Spread: Penguins (+1.5 -278), Capitals (-1.5 +225)
Moneyline: Penguins (-105); Capitals (-112)
Over/Under: Over 5.5 (-120/Under 5.5 (-103)
|Sabres||+1.5 (+133)||+295||O 6.5 (-104)|
|Penguins||-1.5 (-159)||-360||U 6.5 (-118)|
Bets We Like With a Penguins Win
Penguins to score first and win the match (+165, DraftKings)
We mentioned that the Penguins are basically a .500 team on the road, but the one thing that they have been able to play to their advantage has been scoring first. When the Penguins score first on the road, they are 9-3-0. when they don’t, they are 3-8-1. It’s pretty much a 50/50 proposition, but considering the game odds are basically even money, you can add value to your bet if you believe in Pittsburgh by getting them at +165 to score first and win.
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Bets We Like With a Capitals Win
Total UNDER 5.5 goals (-103, DraftKings)
While the Penguins are a more prolific offensive team than any opponent the Caps have played in their past 15 games, the Capitals’ style of play really grinds on the opposition because they are such a good puck possession team. They force their opponents to expend so much energy paying defense or trying to get the puck that there usually isn’t much left to mount an offensive attack once they do finally get it.
If the Capitals can stay out of the penalty box, the under comes into play even more as it would keep Pittsburgh’s dangerous power play at bay.
Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
UNDER 0.5 goals in the first period (+360, DraftKings)
It seems odd to predict a scoreless period, especially between two good offensive teams, but it’s not hard to imagine these clubs going through a bit of a feeling-out process since it has been so long since they’ve played each other. Certainly, both teams are in a different place today than they were back on Feb. 25.
Consider Washington’s current even-strength shutout streak (we always bet streaks), and combine it with the way the Penguins played defensively against Boston in a similar situation with two divisional foes playing for the first time in a bit (Pittsburgh won that one 1-0). It’s not hard to see there is a very real possibility of a scoreless period in this one.
Of course, you can hedge the bet and get it for +230 at under one goal, earning a push if one goal is scored, but why dent your odds? Go for the gusto!
Capitals vs. Penguins Prediction
When these two teams meet again on Saturday, we could be looking at a completely different story and a completely different style of game. But the thought here is this one will be played a little more conservatively, leading to a low-scoring affair. We really wouldn’t be surprised if this one went past regulation either.
Pick: Capitals 3, Penguins 2 (SO)
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