Capitals-Penguins Game 4: Expect Two-Time Champs to Even Series

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 2:17 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 2, 2018 2:17 PM UTC

Could Thursday be two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh’s final home game of the season? It might be if the Pens lose Game 4 to the Washington Capitals.

Game 4: Washington (2-1) at Pittsburgh (1-2)Free NHL Pick: Penguins (& Over)Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin has never reached the conference finals. Should his team win Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Pittsburgh on Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), Ovi will be just one victory away – and it’s rare for a team in any sport to rally from a 3-1 hole that the Penguins would be facing with a loss.

Meanwhile, a defeat could mean the last home game of the season for the two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins. They haven’t been great at PPG Paints Arena in these playoffs with a 2-2 record following Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to Washington. Pittsburgh also lost Games 2 & 5 there in the first round vs. Philadelphia – so that’s three straight home losses for a team that was 30-9-2 in its own arena during the season. Only Winnipeg (32) had more home victories. Washington is 4-0 on the road in the 2018 playoffs and 8-2 over the past two postseasons, including 3-1 in Pittsburgh.

On the updated BetOnline series line, Washington is now a -170 favorite with Pittsburgh at +150. The Caps are +275 to win the East with the Penguins at +350.

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Historic Goal for Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the winning goal in Game 4 at 18:53 of the third, his NHL co-leading eighth of these playoffs. It was the latest game-winning goal of the future Hall of Famer’s postseason career. Washington had trailed both 2-1 and 3-2 in the second period. Matt Niskanen tied it 3-3 at 5:06 of the third before Ovechkin’s heroics. Braden Holtby stopped 19 of 22 shots to win for the sixth time in his past seven games. Nicklas Backstrom registered three assists, including on Ovechkin’s game-winner.

The Penguins got a goal and an assist from both Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby; Guentzel leads all players this postseason with 19 points and Crosby is third with 17 (entering Wednesday’s games). Guentzel and Crosby both are tied with Ovechkin (and Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele) with eight goals to lead. Crosby now has 181 career playoff points, taking sole possession of 13th all-time from Ray Bourque. Matt Murray made only 18 saves to fall to 5-4 in these playoffs after going 27-9 the previous two postseasons.

Pittsburgh is very banged up. On the bright side, Evgeni Malkin returned from injury in Game 3 after missing the first two and had an assist in just over 19 minutes. However, Carl Hagelin (upper body) was out again, and rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese sustained a broken jaw and a concussion following a big hit from Washington's Tom Wilson.

It was the second questionable hit by Wilson this series (Game 2 on Brian Dumoulin), but he avoided suspension the first time. Not sure he will this time despite not being penalized (hearing was Wednesday). Aston-Reese skated on the No. 3 line before being injured and figures to be replaced by either Carter Rowney or fellow rookie Daniel Sprong, who hasn’t played since mid-January. Rowney played the first two games of this series before being scratched the past two.

  • Over is 18-7-2 in Capitals’ last 27 games following a win.
  • Over is 20-9-3 in Penguins’ last 32 overall.

It’s unfathomable for the Pens to lose a fourth straight home game in my opinion, and the presumed loss of Wilson would hurt the Capitals. Take Pittsburgh for a Thursday NHL pick and a smaller lean to the ‘over.’

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