FLORIDA PANTHERS (1-0-0, 2 points)
at PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (2-0-1, 5 points)
Puck drops: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Pittsburgh -165, Florida +145, Total: 5.5
After a three-game swing through Northwest Canada to start the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins return to the Steel City for their home opener against the Florida Panthers. The Pens have not played at home since losing 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals—blowing a 3-1 series lead.
Pittsburgh swept the season series with Florida last year 4-0, with the Panthers picking up just one standings point in a shootout loss in March. In fact, they have just one victory over the Pens in the last two years. Florida tied with Colorado for the third-worst road record in the NHL last season, posting an unimpressive 14-23-4 record away from home. The Panthers roster is much improved this year—adding a dozen new players in the offseason—but it will certainly take some time to gel. Even without sniper Evgeni Malkin in the lineup (lower body injury), expect a hard-working PITTSBURGH team to pick up the victory in front of an energized home crowd on Tuesday night.
The FoxSheets also like the UNDER (-130) in this game:
Play Under - Any team against the total (FLORIDA) - off a road win, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team in the first half of the season. (151-95 over the last 5 seasons.) (61.4%, +47.5 units. Rating = 2*).
The Panthers won their season opener on Saturday night, blanking the New York Islanders 2-0 on Long Island. Free-agent pickup Jose Theodore (.916 SV Pct. in 32 games last year) made 27 saves to record a shutout in his first start with his new squad.
Defenseman Brian Campbell (27 points in 2010-11 with Chicago) also had a nice debut for the Panthers, chipping in two assists. Long-tenured Panther Stephen Weiss (team-high 49 points last season) scored for Florida, along with D Jason Garrison.
Penguins’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (.918 SV Pct. in 2010-11) picked up wins in his first two starts this year against Vancouver and Calgary. The acrobatic netminder can be very streaky, but when he’s dialed in, he’s one of the most dynamic goaltenders in the league.Pittsburgh is still without captain Sidney Crosby (concussion). It’s also unlikely shutdown defenseman Brooks Orpik (194 hits) will suite up, as he recovers from offseason hernia surgery.