NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Penguins vs. Kings

NHL Odds, Preview, Prediction: Penguins vs. Kings article feature image

Andrew Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Fiala

  • The Kings host the Penguins in Saturday night NHL action.
  • While Pittsburgh will be playing the second half of a back-to-back, Los Angeles hasn't played in 10 days.
  • Fresh legs are likely to be a factor and Ryan Dadoun details his best bet below.

Penguins vs. Kings Odds

Penguins Odds+108
Kings Odds-130
Over/Under6.5 (-112/-108)
Time10:30 p.m. ET
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

The Kings are having a strong season with a 28-18-7 record, but when they last faced Pittsburgh on Oct. 20, they suffered a 6-1 defeat. That game was ages ago though. Surely the Kings can do better against the Penguins on Saturday, right?

It helps that the previous contest was in Pittsburgh while Saturday's game is in Los Angeles. Plus, the Kings are well rested, having last played Jan. 31, while Pittsburgh will be dealing with the second half of a back-to-back.

Are those differences enough to give the Kings the edge this time around? Or will Pittsburgh sweep the two-game season series? Let's look at the matchup and make a betting prediction.

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Pittsburgh Penguins

If there's one thing the Penguins should have an abundance of going into Saturday's contest, it's motivation. Pittsburgh has made the playoffs in 16 straight campaigns (assuming you count their qualifying round loss in the 2020 tournament as "making the playoffs"), but is in danger of missing the postseason this season.

Going into Friday's action, the Penguins have a 25-16-9 record and are tied with the Islanders for the final Wild Card spot. The Penguins might be playing on fumes Saturday, but perhaps they'll think of their tenuous position as they attempt to persevere.

Pittsburgh's skaters might not be the only ones playing on no rest. Casey DeSmith is scheduled to start against Anaheim on Friday. Under normal circumstances, that would make Tristan Jarry, who has a 16-5-5 record, a 2.65 GAA and a .921 save percentage in 27 games, the logical starter against Los Angeles. However, Jarry has an upper-body injury, so his availability for Saturday's game is in question. If he's not an option, DeSmith might be sent out again.

Having a goaltender play on no rest is typically far more problematic than having skaters do it, and it's not like DeSmith has been great to begin with. Entering Friday's action, he has a 3.23 GAA and a .905 save percentage in 23 games.

Pittsburgh does have the 12th-best offense with 3.24 goals per game this season, and the trio of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel have been as big a threat as ever in 2022-23. The Penguins can never be ruled out, but there are causes for concern.

Los Angeles Kings

The Penguins might play Saturday night with a less-than-ideal goaltending situation, but that's basically what Los Angeles endures every night. The Kings rank 24th defensively with 3.43 goals allowed per game. In terms of expected goals against, Los Angeles ranks 15th with 159.35, per Moneypuck, which suggest the Kings' problems can be placed more on leaky goaltenders than shaky defensemen.

Jonathan Quick has been particularly problematic. The 37-year-old has struggled in 2022-23 with an 8-12-4 record, a 3.41 GAA and a .881 save percentage in 27 contests.

His underwhelming performance has led to the Kings leaning more on Pheonix Copley lately. The 31-year-old has a 2.97 GAA and a .897 save percentage in 20 games, which is far from ideal. However, he's posted an amazing 15-3-1 record. That's partially thanks to the Kings' forwards. Even in games where Copley has allowed at least three goals, his record is a respectable 6-3-1.

Los Angeles has been fairly effective on offense lately. Dating back to Jan. 7, the Kings have scored 3.27 goals per game, which gives them the 11th-best offense over that span. Kevin Fiala, Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe and defenseman Drew Doughty have been leading the charge, each recording at least 11 points over Los Angeles' past 11 games.

That's helped make up for the fact that Gabriel Vilardi (upper body) hasn't played since Jan. 14 and isn't expected to return Saturday.

Penguins vs. Kings Pick

Even with the possibility of Jarry being unavailable and the game taking place in Los Angeles, the Penguins are only seen as small underdogs on the moneyline. The puck line is 1.5 goals in favor of Pittsburgh, but that skews the potential payout to -265 for the Penguins and +210 for Los Angeles.

Ultimately, I'm going to side with the Kings. The potential moneyline payout isn't bad and while these teams are fairly even on paper, I think the home-ice advantage is enough to tip the scales. The Penguins haven't been a great road team this season, posting a 10-10-5 record going into Friday's action, while the Kings are 14-9-2 in Los Angeles.

If I knew for certain Jarry wasn't playing, I might switch to Over 6.5 goals, but without having that information as of this writing, Los Angeles is my best play.

Pick: Kings Moneyline | Play Down to -125

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