Metropolitan Division rivals meet on Sunday night, as the Washington Capitals visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on NBCSN. The Capitals could virtually wrap up first place in the division if they can win this game on Sunday, while the Penguins need to win this game to have any realistic chance of catching Washington. These teams have met three times this season, with Pittsburgh winning twice. Let’s look at Sunday’s contest and NHL picks.
Don't miss the ice action from PPG Paints Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 1, 2018. Catch every moment of the game live on NBCSN.
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The Capitals would seem to be in really good shape to win the division, but their last three games of the season are not easy, as they play St. Louis, Nashville and New Jersey. The Capitals are just 19-20 on the road this season, with 24 games going over, 14 going under the total, with one push. Washington is scoring 3.1 goals per game and giving up 2.9 per contest. This game on Sunday is the first of a back-to-back on the road, as the Capitals visit St. Louis on Monday.
The Penguins are not in a great spot on Sunday, as this will be the second half of a back-to-back, as Pittsburgh hosted Montreal on Saturday. The Penguins have been a very good home team this season, as they were 28-10 in their first 38 home games, with 22 games going over the total, 15 going under, with one push. They are scoring 3.3 goals per game and giving up 3 per contest.
Pittsburgh has simply been outstanding on home ice of late. They had won 16 of 18 at home before Saturday’s game against Montreal, with the only two losses coming to New Jersey. The Penguins would definitely benefit from having home ice advantage in the playoffs, but unless the Capitals slip up, the Penguins are not going to win the division. Pittsburgh went 10-3 last year at home in the playoffs and two years ago they were 9-4 on home ice in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Both Washington and Pittsburgh have been very good on the power play this season. The Capitals are 5th in the league at 23%, while the Penguins lead the league at just over 26%. The Capitals are nothing special in penalty killing, as they are just 18th in the league at about 80%. The Penguins have similar numbers, as they are 17th in the league on the penalty kill.
These teams have played three times this season with Pittsburgh winning 3-2 and 7-4, while the Capitals won 4-1. Three of the last four meetings in this series have gone under. The Penguins had owned this series at home until recently, winning six straight but in the last four meetings in Pittsburgh the teams have split.
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The Capitals have a golden chance to take away any doubt of who will win the Metropolitan Division, but it won’t be easy, as the Penguins have been excellent on home ice this season. The Penguins have dominated pretty much every team at PPG Paints Arena this season except for New Jersey. Pittsburgh finally has Matt Murray healthy and playing well in goal and they look to be rounding into playoff form. I will lay the price and take Pittsburgh on Sunday night. I also think the total is worth looking at, as both teams are scoring a lot of goals and they are also struggling a bit on defense. This has all the looks of a game where the winning team scores 4 or 5 goals. I will go over the total on Sunday night.
NHL Odds: Penguins 4, Capitals 3
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