Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook.
|O 6 (-110)
|Tampa Bay Lightning||-1.5
|U 6 (-110)
The Pittsburgh Penguins will face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the third time this season. The season series is tied at 1-1. Interestingly, each team has won on the road. Both of these teams are in comfortable playoff positions. However, they are both trying to cement their spots. The Penguins could fall to third in the Metropolitan Division with a loss, and the Lightning could fall to second or third in the Atlantic Division with a loss.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been streaky this year. However, their winning streaks last longer than their losing streaks. The Penguins have a strong offense and impressive defense. Offensively, they are led by left winger Jake Guentzel and center Sidney Crosby. Guentzel and Crosby have a combined 103 points. Guentzel has become the team’s most prolific scorer and leads the Penguins with 28 goals. Defensively, veteran Kris Letang plays the anchor role. He may be 34, but he leads the Penguins in TOI at 25:49. No other Penguin has a TOI within three minutes of that. As great as the Penguins offense and defense is, their goaltending is some of the best in the league. Tristan Jarry plays most games. He has 26 wins and only allows 2.33 goals per game.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are having another excellent season. They are led by veterans Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. Stamkos leads the Lightning with 60 points. He is an efficient player who converts on 18.1% of his shots. His partner in crime, Victor Hedman, is a defensive workhorse. Hedman plays over 25 minutes a game and makes his team better. He has a +/- of 19 and leads the Lightning with 40 assists. The Lightning also have an impressive goaltender. Andrei Vasilevskiy is their starting goalie and has saved many games with his heroics in net. His 29 wins are the most in the NHL. The Lightning and Penguins are well-rounded, but the Lightning have home-ice advantage and are on a five-game winning streak, so I am picking them to win.
Tampa Bay Lighting beat Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2. Pittsburgh Penguins cover, Under 6 goals.
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|Pittsburgh Penguins||Head-to-Head||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Mike Sullivan||Head Coach||Jon Cooper|
|33-14-8 (2nd in Metropolitan Division)||Standing||35-11-6 (1st in Atlantic Division)|
|Jake Guentzel (53)||Points||Steven Stamkos (60)|
|Jake Guentzel (25)||Goals||Steven Stamkos (26)|
|Kris Letang (42)||Assists||Victor Hedman (40)|
|Kris Letang (17)||+/-||Victor Hedman (19)|
|Jake Guentzel (3.51)||Shots (Per Game)||Steven Stamkos (2.82)|
The Penguins are looking to take the series lead in this game. If they want to beat this surging Lightning team, they have to get second-chance shots and draw penalties.
The Penguins will likely face Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal for the Lightning. Vasilevskiy has proven himself to be one of the best goaltenders in the league. He is tough to score on, which is why the Penguins have to try to slip one past him on a second-chance shot.
The Penguins do not have a great power-play unit. They only convert on 22% of power-plays. Since that is the case, the Penguins have to draw a lot of penalties and give themselves as many man advantages as possible.
The Lightning may be the favorites, but the Penguins have proven to be a tough matchup. The Lightning need to limit the Penguins shots and slow down Evgeny Malkin if they want to win.
The Penguins shoot a lot. They average 34.8 shots per game, the sixth-most in the NHL. It is no wonder the Penguins score over three goals a game with how much they shoot. The Lightning defensemen have to limit the Penguins shots. If they do, they will limit their scoring opportunities.
Evgeny Malkin is not the player he once was. The veteran is in the back half of his career and has missed most of the season with injuries. However, the 35-year-old Malkin looked like he was 25 in the last game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Malkin finished the game with one power-play goal and one assist. Malkin has some momentum from the last game, and the Lightning have to squash it. If the Lightning do not pay enough attention to him, he will probably score again in this game.
Bryan Rust is not a star on this Penguins team. He is the starting right-winger, but he is no Sidney Crosby.
Rust has been quietly putting up good numbers this season. He has 18 goals, 24 assists, and a +/- of 9. However, he has only played 33 games. If you readjust for injury, he is scoring over one point a game.
Defensively, the Lightning have to try to take him out of the play; Rust is dangerous with the puck and makes the right pass.
Alex Killorn is not as productive as Bryan Rust, but he is having a nice season on the Lightning’s second line. Killorn has 16 goals and 29 assists and plays under 20 minutes a game.
Killorn has complemented Mathieu Joseph and Steven Stamkos well on that second line. The Penguins defenseman have to be aware of Killorn at all times but also pay attention to Steven Stamkos. It is a difficult task, but it must be done.
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|Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning Information|
|What||Pittsburgh Penguins vs Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Where||Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida|
|When||Thursday, March 3, 7:00 PM EST|
|How to Watch||ESPN+|
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Max Heering graduated from the University of Kansas Sport Management program in May 2020. Max follows and writes about the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, MLS, college football, and college basketball. In his free time, you can catch Max draining threes on the basketball court. Email: [email protected]More info on Max Heering
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