Wednesday’s NHL Conference Finals betting preview: Penguins at Lightning

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Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning (A: +165, H: -200, O/U: 5)

Series tied 1-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins attempt to regain home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference finals when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game 3 on Wednesday. Captain Sidney Crosby’s first career playoff overtime goal gave the Penguins a 3-2 victory on Monday to rescue a split in the first two games despite an overall 76-41 edge in shots.

“We just stayed with it,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan told reporters. “We tried to play the game the right way. That’s what I like about the group. As the game wore on we got better and better.” Crosby hopes to build off his first goal in nine games and fellow center Evgeni Malkin has gone without a point for the last six contests while Tampa Bay’s top two scorers in the playoffs – Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson – have been held off the scoresheet in the series. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (left leg) is still day-to-day after getting injured in Game 1, but whether he or Andrei Vasilevskiy is in net, Tampa Bay needs more offensive zone time. “We were just too much one and done and not taking advantage of what we’re good at,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper told reporters after Game 2. “We do it in spurts, but we haven’t done it for six periods now against these guys.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, TVAS

PROBABLE GOALIES:

Penguins – Matt Murray (W/L: 8-3, GAA: 2.14, SAVE %: .929)

Lightning – Andrei Vasilevskiy (W/L: 1-1, GAA: 1.74, SAVE %: .947)

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (57-29-9, 41-36 O/U): Sullivan shuffled his lines a bit to create a spark, even putting Crosby and Malkin together for a few shifts, and it was former fourth-liner Bryan Rust who set up Crosby’s winner 40 seconds into the extra period. Phil Kessel continues to produce with a team-high 14 points after tying Patric Hornqvist for the goal-scoring lead with his sixth on Monday. Justin Schultz replaced Olli Maatta on defense in Game 2 and Sullivan told reporters, “I liked his game. … I thought his mobility was evident going back for pucks and helping us get out of our zone efficiently.”

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (55-33-6, 37-44 O/U): Anton Stralman (broken fibula) returned to the lineup Monday for the first time in more than seven weeks and notched a goal in the first period while captain Steven Stamkos (blood clot) is still in a holding pattern. The Lightning hope to get right wing Ryan Callahan back after he missed Game 2 with the flu and was replaced by Jonathan Marchessault. The 21-year-old Vasilevskiy has stopped 63-of-67 shots since coming on for Bishop in the first period of Game 1 and Stralman told reporters Monday, “He played like he’s done nothing else but play in playoff games.”

TRENDS:

* Penguins are 23-5 in their last 28 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Lightning are 5-1 in their last 6 overall.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Penguins last 4 Conference Finals games.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Lightning last 4 overall.
* Over is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in Tampa Bay.

COVERS CONSENSUS: As of Tuesday night the Lightning are getting 53 percent of the public picks and Over 5 is grabbing a lofty 74 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.

HOME TEAM ICE GIRLS:

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