Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators NHL Betting Odds & Pick from Will Rogers: May 19th 2017

| May 19, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Ottawa Senators
NHL Betting Pick: Ottawa -103 odds (May 19th 2017)

The set-up: The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ high-octane offense averaged an NHL-best 3.39 goals per game in the regular season but in three games against Ottawa, the Penguins have scored just one goal in each game of this series. Kessel’s third-period goal in Game 2 was enough to win but when Crosby scored for the Pens in Game 3, Ottawa already led 5-0. Game 4 of this series is clearly a pivotal one for the defending champs, as coming back from a 3-1 deficit may be too much to ask of a Pittsburgh team struggling on offense and decimated by injuries on the blue line. Adding more drama to the occasion, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Sullivan told reporters he’d reveal what he hopes to be his ace in the hole on Friday morning, with the disclosure of whether franchise goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury or rookie Matt Murray will get the start in net!

Pittsburgh: Fleury had been nothing short of brilliant while stepping in for an injured Murray (lower body), lifting the Penguins past Columbus and Washington and stopping 56 of 58 shots versus Ottawa in the first two games before getting shredded for four goals on nine shots in the first period of a Wednesday’s 5-1 loss. The roles are somewhat reversed from last season when the 22-year-old Murray took over for a concussed Fleury and guided Pittsburgh to its fourth Stanley Cup title in franchise history. That aside, the Penguins still have their offensive woes to deal with. Those haven’t just begun this series, as they come into this contest having mustered just nine tallies in their last six games, which follows them having scored 35 goals in their first nine of the playoffs.

Ottawa: Head coach Guy Boucher offered his own take on the Penguins’ netminding situation. “I don’t care,” Boucher said, according to the Ottawa Sun. “Whether it’s (Fleury) or another goalie, it doesn’t matter.” Ottawa’s 1-3-1 system is largely responsible for flustering Pittsburgh but the team’s offensive ‘explosion’ (four, first-period goals) was a welcome sight in Game 3. Ottawa’s offense was almost non-existent in Game 2, as the Senators failed to record a shot on goal for 18:53 bridging the second and third periods! Five different players scored in Wednesday’s win with Ryan adding two assists (giving him five goals and eight assists) to close within one point of Karlsson’s team-leading 14 points (two goals / 12 assists) this postseason.

The pick: Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan has chosen to keep everyone guessing as to the identity of his starting goalie on Friday and is that really a “winning strategy?” Time will tell. I do see the defending champs coming out strong, as a team with the firepower of Malkin (6 G / 14 A), Kessel ( 6 G / 9 A), Crosby (5 G / 10 A) and Guentzel (9 G / 5 A) is unlikely to be held to just one goal again. However, the goalie situation could turn into a ‘nightmare’ plus regardless of which player is in goal, the injury-riddled Pittsburgh blue line remains a real problem. Expect Ottawa to take a 3-1 lead in the series with a win.

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