Rangers Fighting To Stay Alive
Opening face-off at Consol Energy Center is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET.
The Rangers snatched an upset win in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series but ever since it’s been all Pittsburgh.
Alain Vigneault’s side found itself shut out in games 2 and 3 before succumbing to a 4-2 defeat in Wednesday’s Game 4. Evgeni Malkin’s goal just over two minutes into the game set the Penguins up with a fast start while the Rangers’ offense struggled from the off. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury only faced 15 shots in the game, turning away 13 of them.
Fleury’s counterpart Henrik Lundqvist meanwhile was bombarded in net, allowing four goals while stopping 23 shots. The Swede has now faced 112 shots in the series, stopping 102 of them for a 91.1 save percentage. He can expect another onslaught on Friday.
While the Rangers will be desperate to stay alive, the Penguins will be looking to close out what has already been a quick series. Friday’s game marks a fifth contest in eight days, and there’s nothing more that Dan Bylsma’s side would like than to get this over and have some rest time ahead of a second straight conference finals appearance, and a fourth in seven years.
The Penguins will be confident they can wrap-up the series on Friday. Forward Jussi Jokinen tallied his NHL-best sixth postseason goal on Wednesday, while Malkin finished the fame with his 11th and 12th points of the playoffs. Having broken his scoring duck in Game 3, Sidney Crosby assisted on a pair of goals in Game 4. With the team looking like it’s firing on all cylinders, there could be cause for celebration for the Pittsburgh faithful come 9:30 on Friday night.
The Penguins do have an injury concern to contend with. After missing five straight, defenseman Brooks Orpik returning to the lineup on Wednesday but was forced out of the game early with a lower body injury. He’s currently listed as day-to-day.
Meanwhile, after his mother passed away on Thursday, the status of Rangers forward Martin St. Louis remains uncertain. St. Louis has two goals and four assists this postseason but has not recorded a point this series.
The Penguins have now been victorious in 13 of their last 17 games against the Rangers, including six of the last eight played at Consol Energy Center.
The Rangers (+1.5) are preferred to cover the spread.
The total (5) is expected to go under, as has been the case in two of the four games this series. Game 4 saw the over pay out while the opener finished with a push.
The over has paid out in six of the last 10 meetings between the sides.
If the Rangers manage to pick up the upset win, Game 6 will take place at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (time: TBC).
Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild – Game 4
Chicago leads series 2-1
The Wild earned a 4-0 victory in Game 3 and will hope to hold serve in the second game at Xcel Energy Center. The Blackhawks meanwhile will be looking to move within one-game of a series victory and a place in the Western Conference finals.
Chicago (-130) is favored over Minnesota (+118) on the moneyline.
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