There was no doubt who the better team was in Game 5. The Pittsburgh Penguins needed a win to avoid having to face an elimination game in Nashville on Sunday night and got one. Pittsburgh jumped on to Pekka Rinne for three goals in the first period and forced him to leave after that first period of action. The Penguins offense again seems to be clicking on all cylinders but can they actually score against the Nashville Predators away from home?
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Home ice continues to be the deciding factor in this series. The home team is 5-0 and has left little doubt they were the better team all series long. The average margin of victory has been 3.6 goals and that has been quite profitable for puckline bettors.
The over again proved to be a great play. Over might be just 3-2 in this series, but with the +odds at a total of 5.5 it has been a very profitable bet. The home team has scored at least four goals a game in every tilt this series and that puts it most of the way there.
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It’s Pekka Rinne. Rinne has seen his fortunes vacillate wildly depending if he is on home ice or away in this series. He has been replaced the last two games he has played in Pittsburgh and doesn’t look like himself in the Steel City. In three games in Pittsburgh, he has allowed 11 goals on 45 shots. That’s a horrific save percentage.
He has played more like the Rinne we know on home ice. In the two games in Nashville he has allowed just a goal in each game, stopping 50 of 52 shots from the Penguins. Rinne has been the story of the playoffs for Nashville with his goaltending and will need to channel that one more time to force a Game 7.
The lack of close games in this series has meant that things are getting out of hand in the third period. Both teams have shown a willingness to be chippy and fight once facing a large deficit.
That has meant fewer legitimate scoring chances for teams in the third period over the last few games. Sure, teams are committing penalties and getting power plays, but they don’t have the intensity that was there in the previous two periods to find the back of the net.
Over the last three games, there have been just three third period goals tallied in total. Don’t be surprised if this holds true again in Game 6 and you can get good odds on Under 1.5 goals scored in the third period.
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Pittsburgh finally found the back of the net on the power play once again. The Penguins had been unable to score with a man advantage in the last three games despite having 13 chances to get it done. The unit is still not nearly as efficient as it has been all season with Nashville’s superb defensemen making it difficult to set up the power play.
Roman Josi was a bright spot for the Predators last game. The defenseman was on the ice for almost 25 minutes and the Penguins failed to score at any time while he was patrolling the blue line.
We are due for a close game in this series. These teams are just too good to not play one game that remains competitive throughout. Nashville’s raucous crowd and a reinvigorated Rinne will ensure the Predators come out on top.
NHL Playoff Odds: Predators 2, Penguins 1
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