NHL Odds, Pick | Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins Preview & Prediction (Jan. 20)

NHL Odds, Pick | Ottawa Senators vs Pittsburgh Penguins Preview & Prediction (Jan. 20) article feature image

André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Cam Talbot (33) and his Ottawa Senators teammates.

  • The Penguins, who are 3-5-2 in their past 10 games, host a Senators side that is 5-5 over its past 10.
  • Pittsburgh has performed much better at home this season and will look to continue that trend on Friday night.
  • Nick Martin analyzes the matchup and offers up his best bet below.

Senators vs. Penguins Odds

Senators Odds+125
Penguins Odds-150
Over/Under6.5 (-110o / -110u)
Time7 p.m. ET
TVNHL Network
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Leg No. 2 of a home-and-home set between the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will commence on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena. The Senators bested the Penguins in Wednesday's 5-4 shootout behind Captain Brady Tkachuk's overtime winner.

Pittsburgh's defeat was its ninth in the last 11 games. During that timespan, the Penguins have averaged 3.66 goals against.

Now, Pittsburgh faces the possibility of missing the NHL Playoffs for the first time since 2005-06. The Penguins' perennially strong roster will be desperate to find a win as -150 home favorites on Friday.

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Ottawa Senators

Ottawa got a massive piece back into its lineup on Wednesday as Josh Norris returned from a 38-game absence. Norris was widely projected to be a top-six center this season, with the offensive upside to score nearly 1.0 point per game.

Norris' return slots Shane Pinto down to the third-line role. It also takes an aging Derrick Brassard out of the middle. Based on replacement value, these rotation changes should make a massive difference.

Ottawa has scored just 2.95 goals per game, but it generates high-quality chances at a rate well above league average. The Senators boast a 3.64 xGF/60 rating during the last 10 games, which ranks fifth in the NHL.

The problem is the Ottawa has squandered high-danger chances at an above-average rate. Nevertheless, eventually Ottawa's offense should positively regress towards the league average — especially given the team's scoring talent at the top of the lineup.

Ottawa's greater concern is keeping the puck out of its net at the other end of the ice. The Senators defensive core is prone to breakdowns in bad areas of the ice.

Anton Forsberg will likely start in goal for Ottawa on Friday. Forsberg reports a +4.2 GSAx rating and .902 save percentage in 22 appearances.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh reports the league's third-worst expected goals against per 60 rating during the last month of action. That is downright shocking for a perennially elite Penguins side.

Granted, the Penguins have skated throughout much of that sample without some of its top puck movers on the back end: Kris Letang, Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta.

Transitioning out of the defensive zone has been a problem for Pittsburgh's depleted defense core. In turn, that has resulted in more time spent defending.

Preventing controlled zone entries has also been a prevailing issue. Opponents generating more quality chances has been especially problematic, because Casey DeSmith has been in very average form recently.

DeSmith has posted a .844 save percentage during his last six starts, which is a steep decline from his .904 season average. He reports a +0.8 GSAx rating in 19 appearances and will likely start Friday with Tristan Jarry still listed as day-to-day.

Senators vs Penguins Pick

The Senators have appeared due for better offensive results for most of the season based on the team's talent and underlying results. Though, this assertion has routinely made me look a little foolish.

Nevertheless, Ottawa can follow-up its big offensive night as it goes right back at Pittsburgh. The Penguins sport a very poor goaltending tandem and have been in shaky defensive form for a lengthy sample size.

Meanwhile, the Penguins still have a number of elite scorers with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin leading the way. Pittsburgh's offense presents a challenge for any team to keep off the scoreboard.

Ottawa's greater problem moving forward is preventing opposition goals, and Pittsburgh can expose that.

Wednesday's 5-4 barnburner was aided by a plethora of penalties. That notwithstanding, the teams' strengths and deficiencies make higher-scoring outcomes likely.

Pick: Over 6.5 ⋅ Play to -120

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