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Last night when just as planned as I hit my OVER 5.5 pick between the Florida Panthers and the New York Islanders from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. I will admit that I did catch some good luck in this one as the goal that pushed the total OVER was scored with 23 second left in to an empty net. Quite a few over/under bets are either won or lost with the net empty and on this night I was fortunate to be on the winning end. The two teams sat tied at 2-2 after two periods which is exactly on pace to get to six goals and over the total, so I will take a bit of credit here as well. Nice to get a winner on the first pick of the week and with that in mind I will turn my attention to tonight’s NHL action that features just three games.
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Edmonton Oilers
My Pick – OVER 5.5 (+120)
The Pittsburgh Penguins will kick off a three-game Western road trip this evening in Edmonton as they look to get back on track against the Oilers who remain in the basement of the Western Conference. Edmonton has indeed won four of their last six games, however they will certainly be in tough this evening against a Pittsburgh team who is due to breakout offensively and will welcome Evgeni Malkin back in to their lineup after a five-game absence. Malkin, who has 19 goals and 51 points through 45 games this season, could very well be the cure for a Penguins team who has lost six of their last eight games and who has scored just a pair of goals over their last three contests. However, don’t be mistaken here. Teams that boast elite offensive talent like the Penguins do don’t stay quiet for very long. In fact, the Penguins will face off against a team that is widely known for giving up plenty of goals. Edmonton sits tied for 28th in the league in goals against per game at 3.28, and the only team that is worse is the lowly Buffalo Sabres at 3.53. Better yet for Pittsburgh is they will face off against the Oilers backup goaltender in Viktor Fasth. Fasth surrendered four goals in his last outing and currently sits with a 3.31 goals against average to go along with a .891 save percentage. Don’t expect those numbers to improve against a Pens team that scores 2.86 goals per game and has a powerplay that ranks 7th in the league at 22.2%. Although I do expect the Penguins to bounce back offensively, whether they can tighten up on defense remains to be seen. Their goals against has risen steadily over the course of the last couple of months and now sits at 2.5. Still very respectable, but they did sit in the 2.2-2.3 range for much of the season before the New Year rolled around. Marc-Andre Fleury has also regressed as he is just 1-4-1 in his last six games to go along with a large 3.63 goals against average. It’s very important for the Oilers to stay out of the penalty box tonight as Pittsburgh will definitely pounce on an Oiler’s penalty kill that sits at just 79.3% if Edmonton parades to the box. It’s very difficult for me to envision this tilt as a low-scoring affair given all the offensive talent Pittsburgh has and how poorly Edmonton can be defensively. To boot, Pittsburgh is as vulnerable as ever right now so it wouldn’t come as a huge surprise if Edmonton were to find the back of the net a few times tonight as well. Take the OVER 5.5 in this one at a fantastic price and watch the goals get pumped in.