Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#53 Toronto Maple Leafs 6.5 vs.
#54 Pittsburgh Penguins -145
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 7:05pm EST
PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh
Written by Chris Kubala

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It’s a battle of Eastern Conference teams on the ice in the Steel City. The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the road as they open a home and home set with the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night. Toronto was upended by Buffalo 5-2 on the road in the second game of a back to back situation Sunday night. Pittsburgh cruised to a 5-1 home win over Detroit, who was playing the second game of a back to back, Sunday afternoon in their last game. The teams have split the last six meetings with the Penguins rolling a 6-1 win in the lone matchup this season, which came at home on November 16, 2019.

Toronto Maple Leafs Battling Fatigue Factor

Toronto couldn’t follow up on their win over Ottawa on the road Saturday night as they were dumped by Buffalo on the road Sunday. The Maple Leafs entered Monday holding the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic Division, four points ahead of the Panthers. They stood 16 points back of Boston for the division lead. Toronto is one of the league’s most dangerous offenses as they average 3.50 goals per game on the season. The Maple Leafs are struggling to keep the puck out of their own net as they allow 3.25 goals per contest. Toronto is a dangerous team on the power play as they convert 24.8 percent of their chances with the man advantage this season. The Maple Leafs are having some issues in penalty killing as they successfully shut down 78 percent of their shorthanded situations on the year: they have five shorthanded goals.

Against the Sabres, the Maple Leafs were playing their third game in four nights and it cost them in a third-period blitz that turned a tie game into a defeat. Toronto was outshot 16-6 in the opening period of the contest but the game remained scoreless at the first intermission. In the second period, Toronto was outshot 12-6 and was outscored 2-1 to trail by that score after two periods. The Maple Leafs went down 2-0 before getting on the board with Egor Korshkov’s first of the year at 11:29 off assists from Jason Spezza and Kyle Clifford. In the third period, Toronto held a 10-8 edge in shots but was outscored 3-1 to end up with the loss. Zach Hyman tied the game for the Maple Leafs with his 18th of the year at 2:11 off assists from Jake Muzzin and Mitch Marner. The game turned later in the period as Buffalo scored three times in a 1:31 span to earn the win. Frederik Andersen made 31 saves in the loss as the Maple Leafs were outshot 36-22.

Pittsburgh Penguins Looking to Gain Ground on Capitals

Pittsburgh won their second straight and their fifth in the last seven games as they took care of business against Detroit Sunday afternoon. The Penguins entered Monday second in the Metropolitan Division and stood only one point back of division-leading Washington. Pittsburgh is very effective at lighting the lamp as they average 3.30 goals per game on the year. The Penguins are solid in their own zone and get quality goaltending as they allow 2.67 goals per contest. Pittsburgh is fairly average on the power play this season as they have converted 20.5 percent of their chances with the man advantage on the year. The Penguins are solid in the penalty killing department as they are successful in 82.5 percent of their shorthanded situations. They have six shorthanded goals on the year.

Against the Red Wings, the Penguins took advantage of a fatigued Detroit team to earn the victory on home ice. Pittsburgh was outshot 15-9 in the opening period but took a 2-1 lead to the dressing room. After falling behind 1-0 early in the first period, Sam Lafferty tied the game with his eighth of the year, unassisted, at 7:58 of the period. Kris Letang gave the Penguins the lead for good with his 14th of the season, on the power play, at 14:35 off assists from Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist. The second period saw the Penguins hold a 16-7 edge in shots and a 3-0 edge on the scoreboard to blow the game open. Hornqvist made it 3-1 with his 13th of the season at 2:53 off an assist from Andrew Agozzino. Crosby made it 4-1 with his 11th of the season at 7:55 off assists from Marcus Pettersson and Jason Zucker. Hornqvist tallied his second of the game and 14th of the year at 11:53 of the period off assists from Brandon Tanev and Teddy Blueger. In the third period, the Penguins held a 10-6 edge in shots with neither team scoring to close the game out. Marty Murray made 27 saves in the win as Pittsburgh held a 35-28 edge in shots on goal.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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Toronto is going to be battling heavy legs again here as this marks their third game in four nights, their fourth in six nights and their fifth in nine nights dating back to last Monday. On the plus side for the Maple Leafs, they did have Monday off, giving them at least a little rest, unlike what they had with Buffalo. Pittsburgh has been very good at home and they bombed Toronto in the first meeting this season. That contest should have an asterisk as the Maple Leafs started Kasimir Kaskisuo in what was his NHL debut and to date, his lone NHL appearance. The Penguins won’t have that luxury here as they’ll face either Andersen or Jack Campbell, who has gone 3-0-1 in his four starts since being acquired. Give the Maple Leafs a slight edge as their offense tests Pittsburgh here.

Prediction: Toronto Maple Leafs +115

Full-Game Total Pick

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Toronto enters this game with a 16-13-1 road record on the season. The Maple Leafs have outscored the opposition by eight goals (109-101) with an even shot differential (982-982) in those games. That creates an average of seven goals per game when Toronto is the road team this season. Pittsburgh enters this game 21-5-4 on home ice this year. The Penguins own a +32 goal differential (103-71) with a +56 shot differential (999-943) at the PPG Paints Arena this year. That gives an average of 5.80 goals per game when the Penguins are the home team. This one has the potential for fireworks with a couple of high-octane offensive teams, pushing this one over the number.

Prediction: Over 6.5

Half-Time Side Pick

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Toronto has been pretty successful early on in their road games this season. The Maple Leafs have held the upper hand in 13 of their 30 road games after 20 minutes of action this season.  The Maple Leafs have been tied in 10 contests, leaving them trailing after one period seven times this year as the visiting team. Pittsburgh has held the advantage after 20 minutes 12 times and been even on 11 occasions on home ice this year. The Penguins have trailed after one period only seven times this year. Pittsburgh plays tough at home and they get the upper hand after 20 minutes here.

Prediction: 1st Period Pittsburgh Penguins

Half-Time Total Bet

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Toronto has been an offensive powerhouse this season and they'll be riding that momentum. The Maple Leafs own a +7 goal differential (35-28) while holding a +4 shot differential (331-327) this season  in the opening period on the road. That creates an average of 2.10 goals per game in the first period as the visiting team. Pittsburgh has been solid on home ice this season and that carries over in the opening period. The Penguins own a +12 goal differential (29-17) and a +64 shot differential (343-279) this season in the first period. That creates a typical first period total of 1.53 goals on home ice for Pittsburgh. This one should likely see both teams denting the twine in the opening period, pushing this one over the total.

Prediction: 1st Period Over
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.