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NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Rangers vs. Penguins (March 29)

NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Rangers vs. Penguins (March 29) article feature image

Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images. Pictured: Tristan Jarry.

  • The Penguins face the Rangers as home favorites on Tuesday night.
  • The Rangers beat the Penguins 5-1 last week at Madison Square Garden, but can Pittsburgh get revenge?
  • Carol Schram breaks down the matchup and shares her best bet below.

Rangers vs. Penguins Odds

Rangers Odds+135
Penguins Odds-160
Over/Under6 (+100/-120)
Time7 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

Just four days after dropping at 5-1 decision at Madison Square Garden, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take their turn as hosts when the New York Rangers visit PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday night.

This will be the third meeting in just over a month between the two clubs. The Penguins got a 1-0 shutout win in Pittsburgh back on Feb. 26, and the season series will conclude on Apr. 7 back in New York City.

Still looking like possible first-round playoff foes, the Penguins and Rangers currently sit just one point apart in the Metropolitan Division standings. Here’s the latest on both clubs and the best bet for the game.

Rangers Defense Stepping Up

Friday’s win was a redemption game for Igor Shesterkin, who had been pulled in his previous start in New Jersey, and his teammates set him up for an easy night. The Rangers stormed out to a 3-0 lead before the first period was five minutes old and limited the Penguins to just 21 shots on goal — their lowest total all year.

The Rangers followed up with another win on Sunday — a 5-4 overtime decision over the Buffalo Sabres. Alexandar Georgiev was credited with the win and faced only 17 shots from the Sabres.

Those low shot totals suggest that New York is tightening up its defensive game as it starts preparing for the postseason — and that’s promising. For the year, they’ve been in the bottom half of the league in 5-on-5 defensive metrics, often bailed out by Shesterkin.

Whether it’s a shift in systems by coach Gerard Gallant or good defensive commitment from new trade-deadline acquisitions Andrew Copp and Tyler Motte, the Rangers will benefit tremendously if this proves to be sustainable.

The penalty kill, however, remains a defensive area of concern as the Rangers rank ninth-best for the season at 81.4%. They’ve given up a goal while shorthanded in 11 of their last 15 games, leaving them with a successful Penalty Kill Rate of just 73.2% since Feb. 26.

No official word on goaltenders for this game as of Monday evening, but Shesterkin is the likely starter. He sits first in the NHL with 31.5 Goals Saved Above Expected in all situations this season.

Penguins Looking to Build on Blowout Win

After a shootout loss in Buffalo and their 5-1 defeat at Madison Square Garden last week, the Penguins returned home with a record-setting effort. Taking down the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday by a score of 11-2, they scored more goals by one team in one game since the introduction of the salary cap back in 2005. Tristan Jarry also stopped 33 of 35 shots from Detroit.

That raises Pittsburgh’s home record for the season to 19-9-5, a points percentage of .651 that’s actually a little lower than what they’ve achieved on the road (21-8-5 for .691).

For the year, the Penguins’ best metrics have been on the defensive side of the puck — tied for third-best in Expected Goals Against per 60 and second best on the Penalty Kill. But the Power Play has been outstanding in recent games — 7-for-16 in the last four games, for a 43.75% success rate. Pittsburgh’s overall offense is also now up to an average of 3.31 goals per game, which ties them for eighth-best in the league.

New acquisition Rickard Rakell had his coming-out party on Sunday, scoring his first goal as a Penguin while adding a pair of assists.

Once again, it’s likely that Jarry will get the start on Tuesday. He’s at 15.7 Goals Saved Above Expected for the year.

Rangers vs. Penguins Pick

With both teams fine-tuning their games as playoffs draw nearer, this should be a tight battle. After starting slow last Friday, the Penguins should be ready from the opening puck drop this time around. And if the Rangers maintain their recent levels of defensive responsibility, chances should be few and far between on both sides of the puck.

In terms of outcome, the special-teams situation does give the edge to the Penguins, whose -160 odds on the moneyline suggest at 61.54% chance of victory.

That doesn’t offer much incentive to bettors, though. Under 6.0 at -120 is a better option with a higher potential payout.

Pick: Under 6.0 (-120) | play down to -140

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