Last night’s action could not have went any better for our lone NHL pick of the evening as the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild stood at zero’s after regulation time, with Minnesota going on to win the game in overtime to prevent the Avs from putting a stranglehold on the series. Mikael Granlund scored an absolute beauty 5:08 into the first overtime period as he took the puck from the wall and made a strong move to the net around a couple of defenders including goaltender Semyon Varlomov and slid it into the far side as he was falling to the ice. A fantastic solo effort to be sure, and Minnesota is right back in the series. Tonight there are four games on the slate and three series are shifting cities to atmosphere’s that are sure to be electric. For tonight’s pick we will stay in the Western Conference and focus on the battle of California, this time from Los Angeles.
San Jose Sharks @ Los Angeles Kings
My Pick – UNDER 5 (-105) @ 5dimes.eu (Best Odds)
The series shifts to the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight as the Kings and Sharks collide in game three with the Kings sitting in an almost must-win situation to keep their Stanley Cup aspirations alive. The Sharks simply beat up on the Kings in the first two games of the series and in unusual fashion. After a 6-3 victory in game 1, the Sharks came back from a 2-0 deficit in game 2 to embarrass the Kings by a final score of 7-2. Giving up 13 goals over a two game stretch is certainly not typical of the LA Kings we have been watching for the last few seasons as they hope home ice can give them the opportunity to regroup and settle into the series. It could very well do just that as the Kings have defeated San Jose in eight straight games at home including all four games the two teams played at the Staples Center in the 2013 playoffs. The Kings frustration level was at an all-time high in the third frame of game two, something that Darryl Sutter is likely to address heading into a pivotal game three. Getting back to the form that allowed them to be the best defensive team in the entire NHL, giving up just 2.1 goals per game overall, while sitting second in the league in goals against per game at home with 2.1 as well will give the Kings an excellent shot at getting back into the series. Jonathan Quick got absolutely torched in games one and two, but I do not expect the All-Star calibre netminder to boast a goals against average above 7 and a save percentage of slightly over .800 for much longer. The Kings are obviously a great home team, as all good teams are, but it wasn’t due to their offensive prowess. They scored just 2.6 goals per game at the Staples Center this season, good for 21st in the league, and their powerplay clicked at only 14.9% on the season at home, good for 26th overall. This team prides itself on defence and has for some time now, something I am certain they will get back to for game three. The Sharks aren’t too shabby on the back end themselves, ranking 5th in the NHL in overall defence this season, giving up just 2.4 goals per game overall and 2.7 per game on the road. Prior to games one and two of this series, the UNDER was 5-1-2 in the two clubs last eight meetings and five of those games had just three goals scored in them. The UNDER is 8-4 over LA’s last 12 games on home ice and is 4-2 over the Sharks last six games on the road. Expect this series to turn into a tight checking, low scoring playoff battle now that it has shifted to LA, and hopefully the Kings can get back into the series and turn it into a thriller.