Thu 26/05/2016 - 08:45 EDT

NHL Playoff Game Pick

NHL Playoff Game Pick

Last year, the Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final on home ice to the New York Rangers, but then went to Madison Square Garden and won Game 7 to advance to the Stanley Cup final. Will history repeat itself?

Pens Vs Lightning Game 7 Matchup Comparison

By Bob Duff

Tampa Bay Lightining (+180) at Pittburgh Penguins (-189)

sidFollowing a 5-2 loss at Amalie Arena in Game 6 with a chance to wrap up the series at their fingertips, you might think the Tampa Bay Lightning are done like dinner heading to Consol Engery Center to try and win Game 7 on the road. But just last year, the Lightning were drilled 7-3 at home by the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference final, only to record a 2-0 shutout win over the Rangers in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.

In the only previous playoff series between these two teams, the Lightning rallied from a 3-1 series deficit in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs and posted a 1-0 victory at Pittsburgh in Game 7. Game 7 hasn't been kind to the Penguins in recent springs. They are 7-7 all-time in the scenario and last won a Game 7 at Detroit to capture the 2009 Stanley Cup final. At Pittsburgh, the Penguins are 2-7 all-time, and have lost three straight Game 7s on home ice. The Penguins' last home-ice win in Game 7 came against Washington in 1995.

A worrisome development for the Lightning has to be the strong play of Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby. He notched a goal and an assist in Game 6 and has potted the winner in all three Pittsburgh victories in the series. Crosby has collected five points in six games and shows 4-8-12 numbers in 14 career games when the Penguins have faced elimination.

The Lightning will again go without captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot), who has missed the entire series and goalie Ben Bishop (lower body injury), who was hurt in the first period of Game 1. That means it's Andrei Vasilevskiy, who's faced at least 33 shots in every game so far, in net for Tampa Bay. Rookie Matt Murray, who returned to action in Game 6 after being replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury for Game 5, gets the nod for the Penguins.

The Tampa Bay forward unit of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn has combined for 23 goals and 49 points in the playoffs. Phil Kessel has scored nine goals for the Penguins, the most tallies by a Pittsburgh player in postseason play in seven years.

Over the course of the six games, the Penguins have proven to be the better team, dominating puck possession stats and outshooting the Lightning in every game.

Pick: The Penguins (-189)

 

 

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