The Penguins are so blistering hot right now, they can make their own third-string goalie look like Patrick Roy. Pittsburgh opened the series winning for the 15th time in its last 17 games and the Rangers were a victim for the third time during that span. New York will look to end that run and even the series before heading back to Broadway.
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New York Rangers +145
Pittsburgh Penguins -165
Concerns in net for both teams make this a prime game to cash the over. The Rangers and Penguins combined for seven goals in Game 1 to easily go above the total and Pittsburgh has been on a tear playing the over. During their 14-2 run to end the regular season, the Pens played above the scoreline nine times with a pair of pushes.
Unlike Pittsburgh, the Rangers don’t have the offense to cover for the loss of their No. 1 goalie. And with Henrik Lundqvist questionable to play Saturday, New York is a +145 dog to knot the series.
The Rangers could be without Lundqvist for Game 2 as they try to even the series. Lundqvist left Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss after the first period when teammate Marc Staal’s stick somehow slipped inside the bars on his mask, sending Lundqvist to the ice in obvious discomfort.
Backup Antti Raanta, who surrendered three goals on 19 shots over the final 40 minutes, would get the start if Lundqvist can’t go. Raanta played well filling in for Lundqvist this season, going 11-6-2 with a 2.25 goals against average. New York recalled Marcus Hellberg from AHL Hartford as a precaution.
With their two top goalies unable to play because of injury, the Penguins turned to their third option and Jeff Zatkoff responded by stopping 35 shots in a 5-2 Game 1 victory. Making just his second appearance since Feb. 20, Zatkoff was sharp when he needed to be. He was moved down the depth chart after posting a 2.79 GAA and .917 save percentage in 14 regular season games.
With the status of No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and backup Matt Murray still in doubt, there’s a good chance Zatkoff gets the nod for Game 2.
The Rangers tried just about everything to dent the Penguins net on Wednesday but they were denied by the brilliant play of Zatkoff. The strategy was sound, test the third-string goalie who hadn’t seen the ice but once in two months. The results were not very good.
But that doesn’t mean the Blueshirts will stop trying. They’re likely to get another shot at the backup to the backup in Game 2 and the results could be much better. There is a reason why Zatkoff was demoted and his numbers don’t lie. He had a 2.79 goals against average during the regular season, a high number in today’s NHL, and the Rangers were a top offensive club with 233 goals scored during the season.
The Rangers lacked discipline in their Game 1 loss with defensive breakdowns and mental lapses that resulted in goals for the Penguins. It was an uncharacteristic performance, but the Penguins speed and scoring ability puts some added pressure on the opposition.
If the Rangers clean up the play in their own end with better coverage down low, their goalie, whoever it may be on Saturday, has a much easier time keeping the puck out of the net. Also, it’s hard to imagine Jeff Zatkoff playing as well Saturday as he did in Game 1. The Rangers will continue to pressure the Pens goalie and this time he breaks.
NHL Odds: New York 4, Pittsburgh 3
Load your betting bankroll from your smartphone or tablet with BookMaker's new cashier feature! Depositing and withdrawing funds from your account has never been easier. BookMaker's live betting platform means you always have access to odds and lines to every sporting event. Click here, and start wagering today! Game 2 of the first round series between the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins will start at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at Consol Energy Center. The game will be televised live on NBC.