Pittsburgh Penguins (39-21-10) at Dallas Stars (32-28-10)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 19, 2015, 8:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Dallas Stars -114 / Pittsburgh Penguins +103 --- Over/Under: 5.5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Take one look at the Pittsburgh Penguins and it would be easy to assume that they might be starting their playoff collapse early this season. This organization can’t seem to get out of their own way in the playoffs since their Stanley Cup victory in 2009. The core pieces have remained the same but the results have been vastly different, and this year under a new coach for the first time since that point they appear to be hitting a rut a little early. The Penguins have had an opportunity to capture the division crown but they’ve lost four of their last five games in pretty miserable fashion. If not for a 6-4 win against the lowly Edmonton Oilers this stretch would be all sorts of awful for the Penguins. It started with a 2-1 loss to the struggling San Jose Sharks last week, followed with losses in back-to-back afternoon games on home ice to the Bruins and Red Wings, and continued on Tuesday night in New Jersey. The Penguins were outscored 7-1 over the weekend and just looked like a team that was absolutely lost on the ice. Against the Devils on Tuesday they did a much better job of controlling play, but it ultimately wasn’t enough. Sidney Crosby did everything in his power to will his club to victory but he just wasn’t getting any help from his teammates. The Devils broke a scoreless tie late in the second period and sealed their win with an empty net goal late in the third. Pittsburgh out shot New Jersey 35-19 for the game but they weren’t able to generate a power play all night long. Thomas Greiss got the start in place of Marc-Andre Fleury but took the loss after his team’s lackluster offensive performance. The Penguins still have a great chance at earning home ice in the first round of the playoffs but it’s going to take a lot more than that to catch the New York Rangers for the division crown now.
The Dallas Stars won’t be playing in the post season this year but now that the pressure is off of them they’re actually playing some pretty good hockey. The Stars have won five of their last seven games overall, though most have been against weaker competition. Dallas defeated the struggling New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, and Washington Capitals during this stretch. They did however lose to Tampa Bay and St. Louis. Sunday’s game against the Blues was a hard fought defensive struggle for much of the night, something that the Stars aren’t normally accustomed to. Kari Lehtonen did everything he could but he wasn’t able to keep the red hot Vladimir Tarasenko off the board. The Blues would wrap things up with a power play goal with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. Dallas held St. Louis to just 21 shots on the night, but they couldn’t find a way to solve Jake Allen and ultimately fell by a final of 3-0. Dallas knows that they’re a dangerous hockey club that is building toward the future, and they can give a lot of teams a lot of problems as we head down the stretch of the regular season.
Dallas is the team that’s not going to the post season this year, but they’re also the club that’s playing the better hockey right now. Pittsburgh needs to find a way to get a win here and get back in the win column.