This article is part of our NHL Picks series.
NHL Expert Picks for March 21: Free NHL Bets and Player Props for Penguins vs. Avalanche
The Pittsburgh Penguins (34-26-10) travel to meet the Colorado Avalanche (41-22-6) at Ball Arena in Denver, Colo. on Wednesday, with the puck drop scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
The Pens kick off a quick two-game road trip with stops in Denver and Dallas. Pittsburgh is looking to snap a four-game losing streak, and a three-game road skid.
The Penguins have had a power outage lately, notching just three goals in the past three games, while allowing 12 goals during the nosedive. Even so, Pittsburgh is still just one point out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference behind the Florida Panthers with one game in hand.
For the defending champions, the Avalanche are starting to look like they're rounding into Stanley Cup form yet again. In fact, Colorado is looking for a season-high seventh consecutive victory. The Avs have outscored the opposition 28-12 during the six-game run, including a 5-0 shutout behind Alexandar Georgiev last time out against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
As far as the Penguins are concerned, they have collected wins in just six of the past 19 games on the road, while going 5-15 in the past 20 games against teams with a winning overall record. They're also 0-4 in the past four games when working on a day of rest.
The Avalanche have won 19 of the past 28 games against Metropolitan Division opponents while going 5-0 in the past five games on a day of rest.
Tristan Jarry (20-10-6, 3.01 GAA, .907 SV%, 1 SO) is expected to get the starting nod for the Penguins, while Georgiev (32-14-5, 2.53 GAAm .920 SV%, 5 SO) is a near-certainty for the home side.
Neither of the two goalies saw action in the first meeting in Pittsburgh back on Feb. 7, as the Pens won 2-1 in overtime, with Casey DeSmith outdueling Pavel Francouz. Nathan MacKinnon opened the scoring midway through the second period, but Bryan Rust forced OT with a goal late in the third, and Kris Letang won it in the extra session. Evgeni Malkin had a pair of helpers, too.
Look for the Avalanche to return the favor. And while the ML isn't priced out of line, take Colorado on the puck line for a better value, as Pittsburgh just hasn't been able to pierce the opponent's net lately.
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NHL Money Line Bets for Penguins vs. Avalanche
- Avalanche PL (-1.5, +158 FanDuel)
It's all about the Under lately for both of these teams.
The Under has cashed in five of the past six games overall for Pittsburgh, and, as mentioned above, it has just three goals in the past three games. In addition, the Under is 5-1 in the past six road games, while cashing in four of the past five against the Western Conference, and 6-0 in the past six games against the Central Division.
For the Avalanche, the Under has cashed in four of the past five games at Ball Arena, while going 5-1 in the past six games against Metropolitan Division opponents. The Under is 3-1-1 in the past five games when working on a day of rest, too.
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NHL Totals Bets for Penguins vs. Avalanche
- Under 6.5 (-115 at Caesars)
NHL Player Props for Penguins vs. Avalanche
As far as this Western vs. Eastern Conference matchup, there are a handful of solid player prop options for both sides.
For Pittsburgh, it hasn't had a lot of big-time offensive performances lately. However, Rickard Rakell has stuck out, going for four goals and six points across the past six outings, including a power-play point.
The way the Pens are struggling, if it is to get on the board, it's likely going to be on the man advantage. And if that's the case, Rakell is likely to factor in. For a chance to nearly triple up your initial wager, Rakell is worth a roll of the dice.
- Rickard Rakell Over 0.5 PP Points (+270 at BetMGM)
Nathan MacKinnon notched a goal in the first meeting, accounting for the only scoring for the Avalanche in Pittsburgh last month.
He has been hot over an extended period, going for six goals and 16 points across the past nine games, while tallking six points on the man advantage during the span. We'll take a chance on MacKinnon for a point on the power play, too.
- Nathan MacKinnon Over 0.5 PP Points (-115 at BetMGM)