The Pittsburgh Penguins took it on the chin last night, as they got behind 4-0 before taking a 5-2 loss against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The loss slipped them back in the Metropolitan, as the Capitals jumped up to 83 points and the lead. If the Penguins don’t look out, they could fall all the way out of playoff contention. It’d be surprising if they fall that far, but there is still a lot of hockey left to be played in the regular season. Note that the Pens have 82 points, while the final wild card team, the Blue Jackets, have 77 points. If they hit a pothole down the stretch, you just never know what will happen. It seems absurd to think of the Pens missing the playoffs, though. In any event, they still have a 5 point cushion and shouldn’t have any problems getting in. Pittsburgh have been a mess on the road, which has ultimately been their downfall this year.
The Pens added another loss on the road in Toronto, bringing their record away to a measly 14-18-1. Pittsburgh return home where they’ve been much better, with a mark of 25-8-1. Before the playoffs begin, the Penguins will have to find a way to get it going on the road. By the looks of it, they are going to go without home ice advantage in the playoffs, so winning on the road is going to be imperative. One of their issues stem from the absence of Matt Murray in net. Tristan Jarry got worked last night, allowing 4 goals on just 16 shots for a 0.75 save percentage. Nevertheless, Jarry has played well in spots, so all of the blame doesn’t go towards the netminders. Third stringer, Casey DeSmith, will get the call in net on Sunday. Head below for our free Stars vs. Penguins pick.
Dallas Stars vs. Pittsburgh Penguins Pick
DeSmith came in for relief last night, stopping 9 shots when the game was already out of hand. Maybe it will give him a boost for tonight, though. Prior to last nights appearance, he allowed 3 goals in each of his last four games, all losses. DeSmith has been fine with a 2.62 GAA and 0.917 save percentage, but a healthy Matt Murray would be helpful right about now. The Penguins have allowed 3.5 goals per game in their last ten games. Conversely, though, they’ve scored 4.1 goals per game. Offence hasn’t been their problem, as the Pens enter tonight ranked 5th in the NHL with 3.25 goals per game.
This is an important game for the Stars as well. They find themselves clinging on to the playoffs in the Western Conference with 82 points. The Kings are the last team out with 79 points, and the Avalanche have 80 points, so it’s going to be close. They’re coming off a 2-1 win over the Ducks, but have won just two of their last five contests. They enter with a record of 14-14-1 on the road this season. However, the Stars have taken six of the last seven against the Pens, believe it or not. But with just two wins in Pittsburgh in their last nine trips, it hasn’t been a friendly place for them to play. After such a dreadful performance last night in Toronto, I can’t see the Penguins coming home and laying another dud. It isn’t like they are in a tailspin, as they won their previous three games before losing to the Maple Leafs, which I predicted with out Saturday NHL pick. Faded the Pens yesterday, and I’m going to jump on them to rebound at home Sunday.
PICK: PENGUINS (-150)