#2 Pittsburgh Penguinsvs.#1 Tampa Bay Lightning
Sunday, January 1 2017, at 5:05pm EST
Written by David Hess
Tampa Bay Lightning (19-17-2-2 SU, 20-20 PL, 19-16-5 O/U) vs Pittsburgh Penguins (25-8-4-1 SU, 15-23 PL, 24-10-4 O/U)
When: 5:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 8, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena in Pittsburgh, PA
Lines: Pittsburgh -240/Tampa Bay +215
Tonight in NHL action the Tampa Bay Lightning will battle it out with the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Lightning have a game in Philadelphia prior to this one, while the Penguins have won their last four games in a row, including taking a 4-3 decision in OT at home vs the Canadiens in their last game. Pittsburgh has won nine of the last 12 home games in this series.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are not playing well at the moment as they have lost their last two games in a row and have allowed 12 goals in those two games. Their offense has not been great this year and they haven’t had the goaltending to overcome that, especially with the loss of Ben Bishop, while the offense has really struggled with the loss of Steven Stamkos. They were the two players on this team that they could not afford to lose and they lost both of them. The Bolts have struggled on the road this year, where they are just 8-12 and facing a hot Pittsburgh team may not be the best way for them to turn their fortunes around. In their last game they fell 6-1 at home to the Predators and scoring their lone goal in that game was Tyler Johnson, which was his 12th of the year. This team needs help at both ends of the ice right now if they hope to stay in the playoff chase.
Andrei Vasilevskiy took the loss against the Predators and he is now 10-9 with a 2.75 GAA on the year. He is expected to get the nod in Philadelphia, so getting the call here should be Adam Wilcox, which would be his first career NHL start. Tampa Bay comes in ranked 11th in the league in scoring at 2.80 gpg, while also ranking 15th in shots taken (30.0 spg) and 2nd in power play conversions, converting on 23.8% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been average as they rank 22nd in goals allowed, giving up 2.88 gpg, while also ranking 12th in shots allowed (29.8) and 24th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 20.6% of their chances.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a solid season overall this year and they are now riding a four-game win streak. The Penguins need to keep winning if they don’t want to fall far behind the red-hot Blue Jackets in the Metro Division. The Penguins won’t lose contact with the Blue Jackets this year as they are just too good, especially with their offense that they have. Ther come in off a 4-3 OT win over the Habs at home and the game-winner in the game came from Evgeni Malkin. It was his 16th goal of the year. He also had an assist in the game and now has 43 points on the year, which is 2nd in the league. Also scoring in the win was Patric Hornqvist, which was his 9th of the year, Phil Kessel, which was his 12th of the year and Connor Sheary, which was his 9th of the year. This team has a lot of weapons on it, including Sidney Crosby, who leads the league in scoring with 26 goals.
Grabbing the win vs the Habs was Marc-Andre Fleury, who has gone 12-9 with a 3.12 GAA on the year, including 10-3 with a 2.65 GAA here at home, while vs the Lightning in his career he has gone 16-15 with a 2.61 GAA. Pittsburgh comes in ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.45 gpg, while also ranking 1st in shots taken (34.8 spg) and 6th in power play conversions, converting on 22.4% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice they have been below average as they come in ranked 17th in goals allowed, giving up 2.79 gpg, while also ranking 27th in shots allowed (32.7) and 23rd in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 20.0% of their chances.
Tampa Bay is:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had not played very well this year, while the Penguins have one of the best records in the league and are riding a four game win streak. Their offense is the best in the league right now, while the Lightning have allowed 12 goals in their last two games. The Penguins have not been great in the crease this year and while Fleury has a winning record overall, he has a 3.12 GAA on the year. He also has a 2.65 GAA here at home and a 2.61 GAA in his career vs the Lightning. The Over is 22-5-3 the last 30 games in this series and 9-2-1 the last 12 meetings between these teams here in Pittsburgh. Look for a high scoring game in this one.
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