The Pittsburgh Penguins were written off for dead two years ago when Mike Sullivan took over as head coach. Sullivan inherited a team that was considered past its prime and lacking the depth for a serious Stanley Cup playoff run. The Pens were floundering and without identity and Sidney Crosby was being suffocated. Sullivan quickly unleashed the team with more freedom and discovered that the Penguins still had Stanley Cup championship capability. Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup in both 2016 and 2017. Not only did Sullivan jump start their offensive talents but he gave them the confidence to win with then backup goaltender Matt Murray. Pittsburgh will face the Capitals at Washington on Saturday night.
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Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals Game 5
Date and Time: Saturday, May 5, 2018, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
NHL Odds at Betcris: Check Back Later
Penguins vs. Capitals TV Coverage: NBC
This best of seven series is tied at two games apiece. Game six will be at Pittsburgh on Monday. If necessary game seven will be at Washington on Wednesday. Pittsburgh evened the series on Thursday with a 3-1 win on home ice. Jake Guentzel had two goals and a plus one to lead the Pens.
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Players to Watch
Pittsburgh center and captain Sidney Crosby has been in Conn Smythe Trophy form so far in the playoffs and has demonstrated why he remains one of the top players in the game. With three career Stanley Cups Crosby has shown the hunger for more.
Another Pittsburgh center, Jake Guentzel, has been even hotter. Guentzel has 10 goals, 11 assists with a plus 12.
Washington left wing Alex Ovechkin remains one of the deadliest snipers in the NHL. What has continued to elude “The Great Eight” in his 12-year career is a Stanley Cup championship. And the pressure continues to build. So far in the playoffs Ovechkin has eight goals and five assists. In the regular season he posted a team high 49 goals and 38 assists.
Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray was an obscure backup in the spring of 2016 when he was forced into the lineup due to the injury of top netminder Marc Andre Fleury. Murray was dominant with a .923 playoff save percentage and ended up as a Stanley Cup champion and the number one netminding job. Last year Murray was even better in post season with a .937 save percentage and three shutouts en route to another Stanley Cup. He was so impressive that Fleury was let go to Vegas in the expansion draft. Murray has a playoff save percentage of .909 with two shutouts.
Washington goaltender Braden Holtby began the playoffs on the bench but rallied the Caps from 0-2 down to win their series against Columbus. His save percentage in the playoffs is .924.
This has been a fairly even head to head series with the Penguins getting the money in eight out of their last 15 games against the Caps. Six out of the last eight games between Washington and Pittsburgh have gone under the total. The Penguins have been a reliable betting value at Washington with five payouts in their last eight visits to Capital One Arena. Six out of the last eight meetings in this head to head series at Washington have gone under the total.
Penguins vs. Capitals Free Picks
This is where the pressure is on full blast. And where the Capitals usually wilt. The loser of this game will be facing elimination on Monday night. Considering the poor playoff history of the Caps it would be a reach to risk on them now. Pittsburgh is the proven champion.
Penguins vs. Capitals Pick: Bet Pittsburgh Penguins money line
Penguins vs. Capitals Score Prediction: Penguins 3, Capitals 2