The NHL is set up with a busy night of action on Tuesday night. Seven games are up on the board throughout February 18. One of these matchups will be a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Pittsburgh Penguins. These two teams have had solid seasons so far and will look to earn another two points in this one. This game will be at around 7:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Maple Leafs have earned a record of 31-21-8 throughout this season, which has them sitting in third place of the Atlantic Division. Toronto has a two point lead on the Florida Panthers in their division. The Maple Leafs are coming off a tough loss in their last outing and have dropped five of their last eight. Toronto will look to get back on track with a big win on Tuesday night.
Pittsburgh has posted a record of 36-15-6 to this point in the season, which has them in second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins are one point behind the division leading Washington Capitals and six points ahead of the New York Islanders, who are in third of the division. Pittsburgh has won their last two games and will look to continue that streak with a win on Tuesday night.
These two teams have earned solid records to this point in the season, which has them in playoff spots right now. Both teams are in a close race though in their division and could use a big two points on Tuesday night. I expect both teams to come out strong in this matchup to try and control the pace early to try and earn a big win.
The Maple Leafs and the Penguins met up three times throughout last season. The first game was in Toronto, where Evgeni Malkin finished with two goals and an assist to give Pittsburgh a 3-0 win. Morgan Reilly scored twice in the second matchup of the season series to give the Maple Leafs a 5-0 win. The final game of the season series was much closer, but Zach Hyman’s late goal helped Toronto comeback to win 3-2.
The Penguins hosted the first game of this season’s series back on November 16. Dominik Kahun finished with two goals and an assist to help lead Pittsburgh to victory. Bryan Rust added a goal and two assists, while Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin both had two points to help. Tristan Jarry stopped 32 of the 33 shots he faced in route to a 6-1 win for the Penguins.
Toronto was able to take last season’s series, but dropped the first game of this season’s series. Pittsburgh found offense early and often in route to a solid 6-1 win at home. I expect the Maple Leafs to make some adjustments in this one to try and avoid another lopsided defeat. If Toronto can get on the board first, it could go a long way to a road upset for them.
The Maple Leafs power play has been doing well so far this season. Toronto has been able to capitalize on 40 of their 161 power play chances this season, which is good for a 24.8 percent success rate. The Maple Leafs penalty kill has not been quite as strong though. Toronto has allowed opposing teams to score on 37 of their 168 attempts, which is a 78 percent penalty kill percentage.
Pittsburgh’s special teams have been doing well on both sides throughout this season. The Penguins have been able to score on 34 of their 166 power play opportunities, which is a 20.5 percent power play. Pittsburgh’s penalty kill has been even stronger. The Penguins have held their opponents to 27 goals on 154 chances, which is an 82.5 percent kill rate.
Toronto has had a better power play percentage to this point in the season, while the Penguins have had the better penalty kill. Both teams are good about staying out of the box, but if either team can capitalize on the man advantage, I think it could go a long way in earning a win. I expect both teams to be aggressive on the power play, which could also allow for a chance at a shorthanded goal.
I expect Frederik Andersen to get the nod in the crease for the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. Andersen has earned a record of 24-11-6 throughout his starts this season. He has put up a save percentage of .908 and a 2.93 GAA. Andersen’s last start came against the Buffalo Sabres, where he stopped 31 of the 36 shots against him in a tough loss.
Tristan Jarry will likely get the start in net for the Penguins in this matchup. Jarry has posted a record of 19-8-1 throughout his games played this season. He has earned a .930 save percentage and a GAA of 2.14 through those games. Jarry’s last start came against the Montreal Canadiens. He turned away 34 of the 35 shots he faced to help Pittsburgh earn the win.
These two goalies have done well for their respective teams, but Jarry has had the better season. Andersen has had some rough patches throughout this season. Andersen has finished with a save percentage below .900 in his last three games played, but if he can bounce back in this one, it would give the Maple Leafs a solid chance.
The Penguins were able to take the first game of the season series against the Maple Leafs, but I believe that Toronto will bounce back with a win on the road in this one. The Maple Leafs can match up well with Pittsburgh on special teams, especially if they stay out of the box. If Toronto can get a strong start out of Andersen, I think they will pull off the upset on the road.
BetOnline has the Penguins listed as a -131 against the money line for this game. This implies that Pittsburgh will win this game around 56.7 percent of the time. I think that the Maple Leafs have been a solid team this season, which should make this game closer to even. If Toronto can come out strong on Tuesday night, I like their chances to knock off the Penguins on the road.