Boston Bruins (23-20-4-2) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (29-11-4-1)
When: 3:00 PM ET, Sunday, January 22, 2017
Where: PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Lines: Boston +145 / Pittsburgh -175
The Pittsburgh Penguins (3rd in Metropolitan Division) have gone on a 3-game winning streak, which they will be looking to extend while hosting the Boston Bruins (3rd in Atlantic), who have lost three in a row…
Problems pile up for Boston
Three straight defeats, four losses in their past five games and two consecutive home outings, during which they have been shut out, is not something the Boston Bruins (23-20-6) are proud of. Especially, with all the competition for the 3rd place in Atlantic Division. Boston is 3rd at the moment with 52 points from 49 games, but has the Toronto Maple Leafs breathing heavily in their neck with 50 points and no less than six (!) games in hand. Even the Detroit Red Wings are just five points away with three games less, while one of the Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference is almost guaranteed to go to Metro Division, with the New York Rangers currently occupying one with 59 points from 46 fixtures.
It is fair to say that the Bruins didn’t do themselves any favors with their 1-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden on Friday. Boston outshot the visitors 25-14 in the first two periods and 30-22, while the Hawks themselves failed to score until just 1:26 minutes left in the contest. It was a bitter missed opportunity and the first time the Bruins were shut out in consecutive home games since Oct. 23 and 30, 2003. Boston is currently 12th in the league and has a better record on the road (13-8-6) than on home ice (10-12-0). The team is 7th in least goals scored per game (2.45), 8th in least goals allowed on average (2.49), 17th in power play with a 17.3% success rate and 2nd best in penalty kill with an impressive 87.1% efficiency.
The Pens don’t stop scoring
The Pittsburgh Penguins (29-11-5), who had lost five of their previous six games on the road, recorded their second consecutive away victory and third win overall by battering the Carolina Hurricanes 7-1 at PNC Arena on Friday. Conor Sheary (15 goals, 31 points for the season) scored twice, while Evgeni Malkin (22 goals, 52 points) and Phil Kessel (14 goals, 44 points) both registered a goal and an assist. Chris Kunitz’s (5 goals, 19 points) marker, his 165th for the Pens, tied him with Martin Straka for 9th place on Pittsburgh’s All-Time Goal-Scorers chart. Eric Fehr (6 goals, 9 points) assisted for his 200th NHL point, while Trevor Daley (4 goals, 16 points) and Carl Hagelin (6 goals, 18 points) also found the back of the net. The Pens have now scored 18 regulation time goals in their past three games.
Goalie Matt Murray, who was faced with a determined offensive onslaught from the ‘Canes during the first seven minutes of the game, held firm, making a total of 27 saves. He is 16-4-1 for the current campaign with a 2.38 GAA and has played just once against Boston before, making 41 saves in a 4-3 win for the Pens this season. The Penguins are currently 4th in the NHL with 63 points from 45 games and have an excellent 19-2-2 home record. They are scoring the absolute highest amount of goals per game (3.60), conceding the 7th highest quantity in their defensive zone (2.93). Pittsburgh has the 3rd best power play crew in the league with a 23.2% success rate and ranks 6th worst in penalty kill with 78.7% effectiveness.
- Bruins are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Bruins are 1-4 in their last 5 games playing on 1 day’s rest.
- Bruins are 1-5 in their last 6 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Bruins are 1-8 in their last 9 vs. Metropolitan.
- Penguins are 9-1 in their last 10 Sunday games.
- Penguins are 6-1 in their last 7 games following a win.
- Penguins are 4-1 in their last 5 after allowing 2 goals or less in their previous game.
Can anyone stop the Penguins at the moment? Well, that team definitely will not be the Boston Bruins, who are struggling to score and have lacked a spark to perform on a regular basis. The visitors have beaten the Pens five times in their previous six head-to-head contests (5-0-1), collecting points in past nine overall meetings (7-0-2). That point-streak is about to be broken, though. The Bruins will need to work hard to even score a goal here…