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Capitals vs Penguins Odds and Picks on February 16th

Curtis Rush

by Curtis Rush in NHL Hockey

Feb 15, 2021 · 2:24 PM PST

Alex Ovechkin skating in warmups without helmet on
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8) warms up before an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
  • The Washington Capitals try to bounce back in a rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins  Tuesday
  • The Capitals come into this contest on a four-game losing streak
  • Read below for the odds, game preview and betting pick

You’ve got to like the Pittsburgh Penguins (7-5-1) and their odds against Washington because they’ve had the Capitals’ (6-4-3) number this season.

When looking at this matchup, Pittsburgh leads the season series 3-0 going into Tuesday night’s game at PPG Paints Arena at 7pm ET. Pittsburgh won the last meeting 6-3 on Sunday. They also  have 5-4 and 4-3 wins, so the games have been very close.

Capitals vs Penguins Odds

Team Moneyline Spread Total
Washington Capitals +108 +1.5 (-165) Ov 6.5 (-120)
Pittsburgh Penguins -125 -1 (+138) Un 6.5 (-103)

Odds taken  Feb 15 at DraftKings

But Pittsburgh hasn’t been blowing anybody out. The Penguins’ first six wins were by one-goal, so this is something Washington can capitalize on. On Sunday, the Penguins blew the game open late in the third period with two empty-net goals.

The Capitals are a slight betting favorite (+2100) over the Penguins (+2400) to win the Stanley Cup behind overall favorites Colorado and Vegas at +750.

Renewal of Ovechkin-Crosby Rivalry

This is yet another instalment in the Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry. The two have taken part in 55  head-to-head matchups over their careers, and Crosby and the Penguins have enjoyed a 34-19-2 advantage.

Crosby has a decided edge individually as well, with 28 goals and 51 assists for 79 points. Ovechkin has 31 goals and 24 assists for 55 points.

Ovechkin has played only nine games between COVID-19 protocols and postponements this year. He has a goal and three assists in three meetings with the Penguins, while Crosby has two goals and three assists against the Capitals this season.

Bryan Rust holds a hot hand for Pittsburgh. He’s leading the team in scoring with 13 points on five goals and eight assists. Crosby is right behind with five goals and seven assists for 12 points.

Something that could propel Washington is the power play. The Capitals lead the league with a 35.5% efficiency, but Ovechkin has been relatively quiet with only one PP goal so far. That won’t last for long. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh ranks near the bottom of the league on the penalty kill, with only a 70.7% efficiency.

New Leadership in Pittsburgh

With  Ron Hextall (GM) and Brian Burke (President of Hockey Operations) now at the helm, it’s fair to expect an initial boost across the Penguins’ lineup. Another trend to watch is Pittsburgh’s remarkable ability to rally late in  games.

They have either been tied or trailing going into the third period in each of their 12 previous contests. On Sunday, the Penguins nursed a one-goal lead going into the final frame and pulled away for a 6-3 victory over Washington.

Bumpy Start For Tristan Jarry

It’s expected that Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry will get confidence from the last win. He has had a bumpy start this season and has been sitting for long stretches due to the steady play of Casey DeSmith. DeSmith, however, was unavailable on Sunday due to a non-COVID-19 related illness and remains questionable for Tuesday, forcing Maxime Lagace into the backup role.

Both teams come into this game relatively healthy. The Capitals have looked not quite right lately — Sunday was their first game in a week due to COVID-related postponements.

Pittsburgh has been carried by the top line of Crosby, Rust and Jake Guentzel, who combined for eight points against the Capitals on Sunday, and have been the team’s one constant during the opening month.

Defense Rests Too Much For Capitals

The Capitals have been let down by their defense. Washington has allowed 22 goals during its current four-game losing streak. Expect the Capitals to carry lots of emotion into this game against Pittsburgh in a bid to turn things around.

Ovechkin could be the key. On Sunday,  he recorded only an assist on three shots, but did not score a goal in 25:46 of ice time. The 35-year-old logged so much ice due in part to extended shifts on Washington’s four power plays.

The Penguins are 5-0 at PPG Paints Arena, with three of those victories coming against the Capitals. At some point, the Capitals are going to end this run. They are just too good to stumble to their fifth straight loss.

Don’t forget, they started the season on a 6-0-3 run, so look for them to return to form. They are No. 2 in the league in goals scored at 3.54 goals a game but 30th in goals allowed. So long as their defense stiffens, look for the Capitals to reverse their slide.

I see value in betting for Washington as road underdogs.

Pick: Capitals ML (+100)

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