Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-1-0 SU, 1-2 PL, 2-1-0 O/U) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1-0-0 SU, 2-1 PL, 3-0-0 O/U)
When: 7:35 PM EDT, Thursday, October 12, 2017
Where: Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida
Lines: Tampa Bay -145/Pittsburgh +125
Thursday evening NHL hockey action and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the Metro Division will battle it out with the Tampa Bay Lighting of the Atlantic Division at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The Penguins are off a road game against the Capitals on Wednesday night, while the Lightning are coming off a 4-3 win over Washington at home in OT. Goalie Probables: The Penguins will be sending out Antti Niemi in this one and he will be opposed by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Penguins Looking To Shake Off Rusty Start
The Pittsburgh Penguins did not have a good start to their year as they fell to the Blues at home by a score of 5-4 to open their season and then they were blasted by the Blackhawks by a score of 10-1. This was all on the heels of them winning their 2nd Stanley Cup Title in a row. They have a game on Wednesday night against the Capitals on the road in what is a revenge game for the Caps as the Penguins knocked them out of the playoffs the last two years. Still, they are hoping to build off their first win of the season, which was a 4-0 home shutout of the Nashville Predators, who they beat in the Finals last year. It was the 3rd time in a row that they have blanked the Preds. That really means that they are playing this game off a couple of emotional games, so the Penguins really have to worry about having a let down in this game. Leading the Penguins in scoring so far has been Olli Maatta with two goals while leading the team in points has been Sidney Crosby with four. Matt Murray is expected to start on Wednesday night, so getting the call in this one will be Antti Niemi, who is making his first start of the year. Last year, he was 12-16 with a 3.30 GAA for the Stars, including 2-10 with a 4.27 GAA on the road. In his career, he has gone 95-100 with a 2.68 GAA on the road and 30-15 with a 2.64 GAA during the month of October, while against the Atlantic Division in his career he has gone 23-24 with a 2.47 GAA, including 5-2 with a 2.56 GAA against the Lightning.
During the regular season last year, the Penguins ranked 1st in the league in scoring at 3.39 gpg, while also ranking 1st in shots taken (33.5 spg) and 3rd in power play conversions, converting on 23.1% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they were a bit below average as they come in ranked 17th in goals allowed, giving up 2.79 gpg, while also ranking 27th in shots allowed (32.6) and 20th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 20.2% of their chances.
Brayden Point Lifts Bolts Over Caps
The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a solid start as they are 2-1 out the gate. They began with a split against the Panthers and then followed that home-and-home series up with a big 4-3 home win over the Capitals in OT. The Lightning fell behind 2-0 in the game after the first period, but then they fought back to tie the game and send it to OT, where Brayden Point scored the game-winner with just 1:52 left in the OT period. Point has been hot to start the year as he has scored a goal in all three games so far and has seven points total on the year. Also scoring in the win was Alex Killorn, which was his first of the year, Chris Kunitz, which was his first of the year and Nikita Kucherov, which was his 3rd of the year. Andrei Vasilevskiy got the win in the game to move to 2-1 with a 3.67 GAA and a .900 save percentage on the year. Last year, he was 23-24 with a 2.61 GAA and a .917 save percentage, including 14-13 with a 2.75 GAA and a .911 GAA at home. In his career, he has gone 26-16 with a 2.67 GAA in his home games and 4-2 with a 2.86 GAA in October, while against the Metro Division he has gone 12-13 with a 2.73 GAA, including 2-2 with a 4.25 GAA against the Penguins. The Lightning will be in the postseason this year, but will probably make a first-round exit.
Tampa Bay was ranked 14th in the league in scoring last year at 2.80 gpg, while also ranking 20th in shots taken (29.9 spg) and 6th in power play conversions, converting on 22.8% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they were a bit below average as they ranked 16th in goals allowed, giving up 2.73 gpg, while also ranking 18th in shots allowed (30.4) and 13th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 18.6% of their chances.
- 1-4 in their last five road games
- 1-5 in their last six games playing on 0 days rest
Tampa Bay is:
- 5-1 in their last six vs. the Eastern Conference
- 35-16 in their last 51 games playing on two days rest
The Pittsburgh Penguins come into this game off of emotional games against The Preds and Capitals and they will be playing on no rest against a rested team. Sounds like a bad spot for the Penguins, who are not off to a great start and I would agree. The Lightning have started out 2-1 on the year and they usually play well at home, which does give them an edge, especially against a team that is playing on no rest and has to travel from Washington, D.C. Despite the fact that the Pens have won the last five in this series, I will look for the Lightning to come up with a big home win in this one, especially knowing that they will not be facing Matt Murray.