NHL picks: Canadiens vs. Penguins, Blackhawks vs. Oilers
Following a pair of exciting series openers, the Canadiens and Penguins will be back in action, along with the Blackhawks and Oilers.
Here are our best bets on the ice for Monday night.
Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
Tue, August 4 2020, 12:05 AM
Two days after a stunning, 3-2 victory, the Canadiens will attempt to seize a 2-0 series lead in this best-of-five, play-in series against the Penguins.
Carey Price was a big reason why Montreal was able to take a quick lead in this series. He made 39 saves on 41 shots Saturday, including 18 in the first period.
“Carey was huge throughout that whole first period and gave us a chance,” said Canadiens head coach Claude Julien. “He made some big saves throughout the whole game, but the first period is where he allowed us to stay in the game.”
Price has not been in the playoffs since 2017, but he produced a 1.86 goals-against average and .933 save percentage over six games the last time his club qualified.
The Canadiens’ performance was no fluke, as they’ve played the Penguins tough over the last two seasons (3-2-1 record).
Montreal was outshot 41-35 in Game 1, but the Canadiens typically win that battle on any given night. They were second in the NHL in shots this season. If they keep peppering Matt Murray in Game 2, the Canadiens could post another upset.
NHL free play: Canadiens moneyline
Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers
Tue, August 4 2020, 2:35 AM
The Oilers should be able to wipe the bad taste out of their mouths from Game 1, when they face the Blackhawks on Monday night.
Edmonton — via the stick of Connor McDavid — struck first Saturday, but Chicago answered with four straight goals to take a commanding lead after one period.
The Blackhawks eventually chased starting netminder Mike Smith, who allowed five goals on 23 shots in an effort that was too bad to be believed. Smith boasted a .938 save percentage in 24 previous playoff games.
Chicago’s talented rookie forward Dominik Kubalik scored twice and assisted on three additional goals, a feat that will be very difficult to replicate in Game 2.
Meanwhile, the Oilers’ power play was in fine fettle Saturday and scored three times. That was to be expected, as that unit was the best in the NHL during the regular season, while the Blackhawks’ penalty kill was just 13th.