Crunch Time! Penguins, Islanders, Game 6

The Pittsburgh Penguins are one win away from clinching a berth in the second round.

 

The first four games of this NHL playoff series treated “Over” bettors to a 3-1 record and prompted Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma to make a goaltending change, calling on the services of Tomas Vokoun to try and stifle New York’s attack.

 

After all, that’s what Vokoun was brought in for – to provide a one of the most talented offensive teams in the league with backup plan should Marc-Andre Fleury’s shaky playoff history continue.

 

Through four games the series was tied 2-2 and after posting a 5-0 shutout in the opener, Fleury had allowed 14 goals in three games. It was time to shake things up and in Game 5; Vokoun answered the call by turning away 31 shots for a 4-0 win.

 

Pick Sixty Sports has a series play pending on Pens in exactly six games at +381 so our first instinct here is to hedge on New York but before that we had to handicap NHL odds for today’s game and see if the line made any sense. READ ALL EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF PICKS HERE!

 

– Game 1, the Pens were -230 and then after winning, they went to -220 for game 2

 

– With the series split, the Pens were -154 and then up 2-1, sportsbooks went to -159 for game 4

 

In Game 5 the betting line was -230 at home, right back where it was for game 1 and now with the Pens one verge of knocking New York out they are -161 favorites with a total of 5.5 Over (-110).

 

Pittsburgh was 8-1 on the road with Vokoun manning the crease this season, outscoring opponents 40-24. He had one shutout Jan. 31 in New York against the Rangers (28 saves) and followed it with a 6-3 win at Washington Feb. 3.

 

Vokoun beat the New York Islanders 4-2 on Mar. 22, stopping 33 of 35 shots he faced and his record against the Isles is impeccable (4-1). On Jan. 29, Vokoun lost 4-1 at home to this opponent but look at his track record since then:

 

Mar. 10, Pens win 6-1 at home; 23 saves

Mar. 22, Pens win 4-2 in NY; 33 saves

Mar. 30, Pens win 2-0 at home; 35 saves

May 9, Pens win 4-0 at home; 31 saves

 

Vokoun was credited with three regular season shutouts this season but it was really more like 3.5 since he combined with Fleury for a 1-0 win in Montreal on Mar. 26 after Fleury was forced to leave the game from being hit. Vokoun also blanked the Rangers, Jets and Isles with the recent two most recent coming right just days after filling in at the Bell Centre.

 

Playoffs records from Vokoun’s days with Nashville seem irrelevant here since they were so long ago (2004-07). Not to mention that comparing Pittsburgh’s offense to the Preds is like a red wagon going up against a tank.

 

New York’s only chance to win this game is by scoring at least three goals so perhaps the Isles Team Total Over 2.5 (-105) is worth a look for a hedge but every way we look at this game, Pittsburgh is likely poised to put out the lights tonight.

 

CHECK IT

In the -120 to -170 range, playoff road faves since 2007 were 43-23 (3.2 to 2.5) and the most recent trend shows 12 overs, 3 unders and a push with scoring averages of 3.5 to 3.1.

 

Pittsburgh has scored 21 goals in this series and there is little to suggest they will slow down tonight. Facing elimination, New York could pull their goalie early and with help from an empty netter, this game could end up finding its way to six goals. Vokoun is the variable, though, and his track record has us confident that this series will end in regulation time tonight.

 

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