Expect the Pittsburgh Penguins to bounce back hard after their massive loss at the hands of the Lightning and clinch the series 4-2 at Tampa Bay tonight. NHL odds makers have the Pens +120 on the road with the total set at five.
It's been the first time that these two teams have faced off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and it has already been a series that few fans will ever be able to forget, with plenty of goals and plenty of games going against the common expectance. I feel that besides everything else going on in the pre-match build up, the Pittsburgh Penguins will have the advantage of experience after playing in (and winning) tough series like this one. The team from Pittsburgh are in their fifth straight playoff appearance, while Tampa Bay are making a postseason appearance for the first time since 2007.
A big loss is still just a loss
Ahead of (another) must win game the Lightning are looking to practice getting shots in, "We have to get shots there," Tampa Bay Lightning winger Steve Downie said Sunday after practice at the St. Pete Times Forum. It's what they did on Saturday and we all know what happened then: a win in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center, by a six goal margin (8-2).
The Bay still trails 3-2 in the series, going into Game 6 tonight and the Pens aren't running scared ahead of tonight's match, Pittsburgh centre Max Talbot certainly wasn't sweating," You can go back to Game 5 of the  Stanley Cup final, which we lost, 5-0. A loss is (just) a loss." he said. The implication is clear, as after that loss (to Detroit) they bounced back with two straight wins to take the Stanley Cup.
It's not as if shooting at goal is a secret plan for fighting the Penguins, but it did seem like the Lightning may have "forgotten" how important it is, after scoring juts nine times in their previous four games. "I think we were very aware of it and just weren't doing it well enough," said Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer.
If you think that the Lightning will make a real series of it and take the Penguins on home ice forcing a thrilling show down in Game 7, check out the best and latest hockey odds at SBRodds, and bet hard on the game going over 5.5 goals. When the Lightning win they tend to do it in style, besting the Penguins by four goals (5-1 in Game 2) and the aforementioned six goals in Saturday's 8-2 Game 5. However I do think experience will out on Monday and home advantage will be no advantage at all. Not since Game 1 has the home team gone out winners (the Penguins on Wednesday 13th April).
No home comforts this year
"I think me and the rest of the NHL coaches in the playoffs right now are all scratching their heads trying to figure out what's going on with the home teams," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said following his team's away victory on Saturday.
Penguins can take the series with an away win
The next logical step (after assuming that the Penguins will win) is to decide on their winning margin, when Pittsburgh win they tend to make a hard slog of it (discounting their 3-0 shutout win in Game one) as their other two wins were both close 3-2s.
I reckon this game will be a hard fought and close run thing but the Penguins will be the team progressing and they'll do it by 2 goals, although it's still worth having a bet on the match going over. The Penguins also have two big factors in their favour; 1) since 2007, they have only lost one game immediately following a non-series-deciding playoff loss by three or more goals. Which means if the trend continues they will be more than a match for Tampa Bay and 2) I predicted that the Penguins would win the series in six. I'm backing the Penguins and my own prediction from before Game 1 for tonight's match.
Prediction: Penguins win 4-2.