The hottest team in the NHL does not belong in Washington, D.C. any longer. That honour currently belongs to their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have won eight games straight. The Capitals have lost three in a row, and as such, the Penguins have caught up in the Metropolitan. It doesn’t look like anyone is going to be able to catch the Lightning, well at least that’s how it looks now, but the Metro should provide an exciting finish.
The Bolts currently have a 10-point lead on the Maple Leafs in the Atlantic. Pittsburgh’s most recent win came against the Winnipeg Jets in impressive fashion. They blanked a quality Jets squad by a score of 4-0. Matt Murray played like the goalie he is expected to be, as he shut out a strong offence.
That’s been the norm for Murray lately, as he’s been playing great between the pipes. The Penguins are going to need more of that for later in the season. If he reverts back to how he was playing early in the year, the Pens are going to be struggling again. Rinse and repeat.
In any event, this has been the best we’ve seen of Murray in net in quite a while. With Casey DeSmith threatening to steal his starting job, Murray stepped up and put up a wall in net. Along with Murray playing well, the offence has been doing their part, too. As soon as everyone was saying that the Penguins are too old to compete this season, they went on a run that doesn’t appear to be ending tonight. Head below for our free Blackhawks vs. Penguins pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
The Penguins have had an unfavourable time against the Blackhawks this season. They’ve met twice and both of them have resulted in wins for the Hawks. A 2-1 win for Chicago on November 18th and then 6-3 on December 12th. That was just before the Pens went on a massive run. Since that loss to Chicago, the Penguins have won 10 of their last 11 games.
Their only other loss was against the Anaheim Ducks. DeSmith was in net for the 6-3 loss, and after that Murray seized the opportunity to get his crease back fulltime. In seven starts, he’s allowed more than 2 goals just once, and that was back in the middle of December. He’s allowed 2 goals or less in six straight outings.
In the Penguins’ last ten games, they’ve allowed just 1.6 goals per game. It’s in total contrast to what they were doing earlier in the season, where the defence and goaltending was failing them significantly. That’s changed with the hot play of Murray.
Along with the defence, Pittsburgh have averaged 3.8 goals per game offensively for a differential of more than 2 goals. The Blackhawks have gone just 7-12-3 on the road this season, with 2.82 goals scored per game and 3.82 goals allowed. Their last trip to Pittsburgh did result in a win, though.
I don’t think third time is going to be a charm for the Blackhawks tonight. One has to assume they have looked at the tape of their previous two games against Chicago and get things rectified for tonight. And given the way Murray has been playing, we likely see a different outcome on Sunday evening. Take the Penguins to continue rolling to their ninth straight win.