Pittsburgh Penguins (36-18-9) at Anaheim Ducks (42-17-7)
|Date & Time||Friday March 6, 2015, 10:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Anaheim Ducks -130 / Pittsburgh Penguins +118 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The Pittsburgh Penguins travel to Anaheim on Friday night as they look to bounce back from their loss on Wednesday night. Pittsburgh was riding high, carrying a four game winning streak with them into the Pepsi Center. Facing a struggling Colorado Avalanche club the Penguins were trying to get their road trip off to a fast start, but things didn’t go as planned. The Penguins came out slow, managing just five shots on goal in a scorless first period. Things got better in the second for the Penguins in terms of shots, but it was Colorado scoring twice to take a 2-0 advantage with them into the third. Evgeni Malkin’s 27th goal of the season got Pittsburgh within a goal, but the Avalanche would seal the 3-1 win five minutes later. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped just 19 of the 22 shots he faced as his record dropped to 29-14-6 on the season. Now the Penguins are going to need to find a way to make up for this lackluster performance on the rest of their West Coast road trip. Friday night they face one of the best teams in the league in Anaheim before they travel to Los Angeles and San Jose. Pittsburgh is currently in third place in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the second place New York Islanders with two games in hand. For whatever reason this Penguins club just doesn’t look the same as others that we’ve seen dominate for long stretches in recent seasons. Sidney Crosby has had a good season overall but given the lofty standards he’s set for himself throughout his career it has been a little disappointing. That’s hard to say about someone with 20 goals and 64 points on the year, but Crosby hasn’t been able to take over games like we’ve seen in the past. Pittsburgh is going to need more from Crosby if they want to make some noise in the post season.
The Anaheim Ducks are cruising to a Pacific Division title, currently leading the second place Vancouver Canucks by 16 points. John Gibson was called up from the American Hockey League when Frederik Andersen went down with an injury, and now that Andersen is back the Ducks have two extremely quality goaltenders they can turn to. Anaheim enters Friday night’s contest on a four game winning streak after an impressive win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. Gibson was strong in this one and finished the night with 37 saves in the 3-1 win. Francois Beauchemin opened the scoring with his eighth goal of the season in the opening period and Rickard Rakell doubled the Ducks lead with his sixth of the year in the second. Alex Galchenyuk broke the shut out for Gibson with under two minutes remaining in regulation. Cam Fowler added a short handed goal. This Anaheim club looks as strong as any that we’ve seen in recent years. The Ducks are big and physical but they’ve got a lot of skilled mixed in as well and now what looks to be two very consistent goaltenders. Andersen should regain his starting job but with the way Gibson has looked it will be intriguing to see how Bruce Boudreau manages things down the stretch.
Pittsburgh needs the game more than Anaheim but unless the Penguins bring their best effort it’s hard to see them beating the Ducks at the Honda Center.