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Penguins Look To Level Series

The New York Rangers snatched a victory in the series opener. Can they build on that in Sunday's Game 2?

The New York Rangers snatched a victory in the series opener. Can they build on that in Game 2?

Trailing 1-0 in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to level the series as they host the New York Rangers on Sunday night.

Opening face-off at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Penguins suffered an upset defeat in Game 1 of the series on Friday, losing 3-2 in overtime.

Despite having extra rest before the series opened, the Penguins came out flat to start the game, quickly falling behind 2-0 to the Rangers – playing on next to no rest after a grueling seven-game series against Philadelphia Flyers – in the first period. Benoit Pouliot and Brad Richards found the net for the road side.

The Penguins answered in the second though, with Lee Stempniak and James Neal adding their names to the list of goal scorers. A goalless third period followed, forcing the game into overtime.

It was the Rangers that got that found the net and took the victory in the extra session, with Derick Brassard – another Rangers standout – breaking the deadlock, although his game-winning goal was initially disregarded with Pouliot finding the net shortly afterwards.

For the third time in three attempts this postseason, the Penguins failed to successfully navigate overtime.

With his team trailing in a series for the first time this postseason, Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma will be looking for more consistency from his team as the two sides once again lock horns on Sunday. So far this postseason, the Penguins have not shown the sort of consistency they displayed for much of the postseason, something the players were only too happy to acknowledge following Friday’s defeat.

Meanwhile, the Rangers still have cause for concern. Firstly, the team was 0-for-4 on the power play in Game 1, extending its streak of not scoring with the man advantage to 25 power plays. That has to change if the team is to gain success in this series, and moving forward.

Secondly, head coach Alain Vigneault and his team will be only too well aware of the Rangers’ less than stellar postseason history against the Penguins. Friday’s win was just New York’s fifth in 21 playoff games against Pittsburgh. It was also the first time the Rangers had beaten Pittsburgh in the opening game of a series.

Friday’s game saw Pittsburgh superstar Sidney Crosby go scoreless again as the Rangers defense smothered the center. He has now failed to score in 12 straight playoff games, dating back to last year. Crosby will look to will his way to a goal in Game 2 while the Rangers will look to put the shackles on him once more.

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins odds for 05/04/2014

Playing at home, Pittsburgh (-193) opened as the moneyline favorite over New York (+175). The Rangers of course upset home team fans in Game 1.

In the previous four postseason meetings between the two sides, the New York Rangers have won consecutive games just once, back in 1992 when they won Games 2 and 3. Friday’s win was just the third postseason win (in 12 games) for the Rangers when playing in Pittsburgh. Put these two trends together and Pittsburgh looks good for taking Game 2.

Once again, the Rangers (+1.5) are preferred to cover the spread, as they did in the series opener. Six of Pittsburgh’s seven postseason games this season have been decided by one goal – a massive part of the reason backing the Rangers against the spread is a good idea.

The total opened at 5.

Friday’s Game 1 saw a push, New York’s third and Pittsburgh’s first of the playoffs. Prior to this series, five of Pittsburgh’s six postseason games finished with the over paying out, and with the two teams having a history of high-scoring games, the over remains the smart bet when the two teams take to the ice on Sunday night.

It’ll be a quick change around for the two teams as they head to New York City for Game 3 of the series on Monday night (7:30 p.m. ET).

For a full list of today’s NHL Playoff odds, click here.

For NHL Futures odds (when available), courtesy of Bovada, click here.

For team prop bets, click here.

For player prop bets, click here.

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