The Penguins are home favorites over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night in Pittsburgh as these two Eastern Conference rivals face off for the final time this season.
We build the blueprint for betting this marquee matchup on the NHL odds board, from our favorite bets for the side and total to some quick-paying picks and prop plays.
These two teams have split a pair of prior meetings earlier this season, with each failing to defend their home ice. The Penguins won the most recent matchup 3-2 on January 4 in Montreal as Brandon Tanev scored the winner in overtime to complete a Pittsburgh comeback as a short favorite.
The Canadiens have been sluggish on offense with no more than two goals in regulation in each of their last four games. The Penguins have been firm early and have allowed the third-fewest goals in the first period this season. The Montreal first-period Under is 15-12 this season and 7-3 in the last 10 games.
Prediction: 1st Period Under 1.5 (+105)
Bryan Rust has been a steady cog in the Pittsburgh offseason this season. The five-year pro leads the team with 22 goals and is ranked 28th in the NHL with a plus-17 rating. Rust scored the game-tying goal in the third period the last time these clubs met last month.
Rust has yet to score in four games this month but has still managed to generate a plus-1 rating as the Pens’ second line continues to excel. Rust is a plus-10 at home this season and plus-1 in two games against Montreal. The right-winger is a good bet to stay above the number at home getting plus odds.
Prediction: Brandon Rust Plus-Minus Over 0.5 (+152)
The Penguins’ defense has been the most consistent unit on the team and is ranked sixth allowing just 2.7 goals per game. Matt Murray has been solid but not spectacular in net this season allowing 2.82 goals per game. He recorded 36 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Lightning on Tuesday.
Both teams have been searching for ways to find the back of the net. The Under is 4-0 in the last four games for Montreal and 3-0 in the last three for Pittsburgh. The Canadiens will continue to struggle to find a consistent scoring threat as they lack punch and originality with a Bottom-10 power-play unit. The Under is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings and is a strong play at even odds.
Prediction: Under 5.5 (+100)
The Canadiens have struggled in this series and are just 3-7 in their last 10 games against the Penguins. Pittsburgh has been stellar on home ice sporting a 19-5-4 record at PPG Paints Arena this season. Murray’s GAA also dips to 2.66 at home as he is 14-8-2 with a .917 save percentage.
Pittsburgh has won three of its last five games with both losses coming at the hands of the red-hot Lightning. Forward Jason Zucker made his Penguins’ debut against Tampa Bay after being acquired in a trade from the Minnesota Wild earlier this week. Zucker settled in alongside Sidney Crosby on the first line recording five shots.
Evgeni Malkin’s steady play has lifted the Pittsburgh second line. Geno has tallied three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. Malkin has also excelled against the Canadiens with 53 points in 42 games against Montreal. Crosby is also happy to see the Habs with 19 goals and 49 points in 39 career games against the Canadiens.
To make matters worse for Montreal, captain Shea Weber will likely miss the remainder of the regular season with a foot injury. The Penguins are 12-2-2 in their last 16 games at home, a stretch that also includes a 4-1 loss to these same Canadiens back on December 10. Weber tallied a goal and an assist in that game against Pittsburgh backup goalie Tristan Jarry but the Pens won’t have to worry about Weber in this matchup. We like the value on taking the Penguins to win by more than a goal.
Prediction: Penguins -1.5 (+150)