A three-game season-opening homestand comes to a close for the Pittsburgh Penguins (6th in Metropolitan Division), with the Vegas Golden Knights (6th in Pacific) visiting on the second night of their back-to-back…
Golden Knights Get Busy
The five-game road trip of the Vegas Golden Knights (1-2-0), which followed the 5-2 season-opening home defeat against the Philadelphia Flyers, is set to continue with a back-to-back set, with the Western Conference champions visiting the Washington Capitals (Wednesday) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (Thursday) in a matter of 23 hours. Last season, the Knights went 10-5-2 in games played without a breather and were 1-1-0 on the road this year ahead of the upcoming double-whammy. Jonathan Marchessault was leading the team with two goals and four points prior to Wednesday and has already notched five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in his past five appearances against Pittsburgh.
— Jon Marchessault (@JMarchessault18) October 5, 2018
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was entering the back-to-back stretch with a 1-2-0 record for the season thus far on top of a 3.92 GAA and a .841 save percentage, but is unlikely to feature in the game against his former employers. Instead, back-up Malcolm Subban, who went 13-4-2 last year with a 2.68 GAA and a .910 save percentage, is the likely starter in Pennsylvania, all set to face the Penguins for the first time in his career. The Golden Knights were scoring the 5th lowest amount of goals per game ahead of Wednesday (1.67), while giving up the 11th highest quantity defensively (3.33). They were yet to score on power play, going 0-for-8 with the man-advantage, and were sitting 16th in penalty kill with 75.0% effectiveness (6-for-8).
Pens Lose Murray To Concussion
After starting the 2018-19 campaign with a 7-6 overtime victory against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins (1-1-0) failed to notch two wins out of two following a 5-1 beat-down by the Montreal Canadiens at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday. The Pens were outshot 29-22, went 0-for-3 on power play and saw further 22 shots blocked by the pacy Habs, who scored twice in each of the first two periods before Pittsburgh even registered its only goal, with Riley Sheahan netting his first strike of the season with less than three minutes remaining in the second frame. Kris Letang, who has already picked up two goals and a couple of helpers this season, recorded the primary assist to pass Paul Coffey for most points by a defenseman in Pittsburgh history (441).
DeSmith on stepping in for Murray: “It’s very unexpected, obviously, but I’m excited. It’s always exciting to play a NHL game. I’d like to prove that I’m an every day starter in this league. I’m going to make the most of the starts I have.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 10, 2018
Goalie Matt Muray made 24 saves and has now allowed 11 goals in his first two contests of the current season – the same amount he gave up in the opening pair of starts last year. He has, however, suffered a concussion in training, so will be replaced by Casey DeSmith, who went 6-4-1 with a 2.40 GAA and a .921 save percentage as a rookie last year. The Penguins, meanwhile, are presently scoring the 4th highest amount of goals per game (4.00), while conceding the absolute highest quantity on the defensive end (5.50). They are 16th in power play with a 22.2% success rate (2-for-9) and top of the league in penalty kill, having gone 5-for-5 on it thus far.
- Penguins are 2-5 in their last 7 overall.
- Golden Knights are 9-3 in their last 12 in the fourth game of a 4-in-6 situation.
- Golden Knights are 7-3 in their last 10 in the third game of a 3-in-4 situation.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Golden Knights have not started the season particularly well and did not win their only visit to Pittsburgh last year, dropping a 5-4 decision. They have, however, done quite alright in busy schedules, winning 10 of their last 17 no-rest outings and nine of their past 12 games played on the last day of a four-contests-in-six-days situation. The Penguins have had issues with their defensive system throughout both opening games of the season, and have now lost goalie Matt Murray to concussion. Vegas has not performed well offensively, but it should really be just a matter of time until the team gets going. This is a very good opportunity for the Western Conference champions to kick things off properly…
Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights
Full-Game Total Pick
The Golden Knights have only scored six goals so far this season after averaging 3.27 per game last year, but have normally been doing pretty well against the Eastern Conference, going over the total in the last four matchups. 15 of the last 21 contests of the Penguins against sides with a losing record have also gone over the five-goal barrier, so do expect a fun game here…
Half-Time Side Pick
Vegas has not led in any of its four first periods this season. And while The Golden Knights are not unlikely to bank a win here eventually, they have had the tendency to start things slow this year…
Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins
Half-Time Total Bet
The first periods in the very first two outings of the Penguins this season have combined for seven goals already. Another high-scoring start is very realistic possibility here, with Vegas also looking like a time-bomb, ready to explode at any minute now.
Prediction: Over 1.5