The New York Rangers are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in five seasons, so naturally, they are welcomed by a series against a longtime postseason rival — the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Three of the Blueshirts’ last four playoff ventures have involved a matchup with Sidney Crosby & Co., although this year it’s New York who is the NHL betting favorite, both to win the series and tonight’s Game 1.
Let’s break down this Penguins vs. Rangers matchup for Tuesday, May 3, while giving our free NHL picks and predictions for how this renewed rivalry will play out… for tonight.
Penguins vs Rangers odds
This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.
The Rangers opened as -120 home favorites for tonight’s Game 1, with the line moving to see New York anywhere from -125 to -135 (and Pittsburgh around +115) as of 10:45 a.m. ET. The total remains at the opening number of 5.5, shaded to the Under.
Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until puck drop and be sure to check out the full NHL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
Penguins vs Rangers predictions
Predictions made on 5/3/2022 at 10:49 a.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.
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Penguins vs Rangers game info
• Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
• Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2022
• Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. ET
• TV: ESPN
Penguins vs Rangers series odds
Penguins vs Rangers betting preview
Penguins: Tristan Jarry G (Out), Jason Zucker LW (Day-to-Day).
Rangers: Tyler Motte LW (Out).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Penguins vs Rangers head-to-head record
Penguins: 1-3-0, 4 goals for.
Rangers: 3-1-0, 11 goals for.
Betting trend to know
The Penguins are 2-7 in their last nine road games. Find more NHL betting trends for Penguins vs. Rangers.
Penguins vs Rangers picks and predictions
Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.
Yes, there’s playoff hockey on Broadway for the first time in five years (the 2019-20 Qualifying Round loss doesn’t count), with Gerard Gallant’s squad not just happy to be here — the Rangers are looking to make a deep run.
New York finished with its highest point total (108) since winning the President’s Trophy in 2014-15, and while the Rangers were winning despite poor underlying analytics through the first 3/4 of the season, they closed out the campaign playing like a team with legitimate odds to win the Stanley Cup.
The Rangers were 40-18-5 through the first 63 games of the season, despite sitting just 30th in Corsi For Percentage (45.19%), 26th in expected goals against/60 (2.65), and 27th with 12.43 in high-danger chances against/60 at 5-on-5 (per Natural Stat Trick). They managed their wins by cashing in with the league’s No. 2-ranked power play and getting carried by runaway Vezina Trophy favorite Igor Shesterkin, who led the NHL with 34.1 goals saved above expected.
In 17 meaningful games after the trade deadline, when New York added Frank Vatrano and Andrew Copp into the team’s top six, the team jumped up to fifth in 5-on-5 CF% (54.17), third in xGA/60 (2.09), and third in HDCA/60 (9.24) — while remaining lethal with the man advantage and still getting otherworldly goaltending.
It adds up to a complete team that has won seven of its last 10 games that mattered (New York opted to rest basically everyone over its last two regular-season contests) and poses a real problem for a Penguins team that is fighting to keep its championship window open.
Now, we’re not saying this is an aging roster clinging to hope. Trotting out future Hall-of-Famers (in Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang) that are still playing at an elite level, plus Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust are point-per-game players, make this one of the most potentially lethal offenses in hockey.
However, the Penguins haven’t been overly impressive since the trade deadline, going 8-9-2 while posting a sub-50 5-on-5 CF% and sitting in the middle of the pack in power-play efficiency and the penalty kill has surrendered six power-play goals in its last four games (57% success rate). Compounding things (at least for tonight and Game 2) is that Pittsburgh will be without No. 1 netminder Tristan Jarry, who has been out since April 14 with a lower-body injury.
Jarry rebounded from a shaky season last year to post a 2.42 GAA, .919 SV%, and 12.8 GSAE, but Pittsburgh will instead turn to Casey DeSmith, who has a 2.79 GAA this season but has given up at least three goals in seven of his last 10 starts. Pittsburgh was already clearly on the losing side of the goaltending matchup with Jarry, but sending out a mercurial backup against the best goalie in the league this season might be too much to overcome in this game.
The Rangers are playing more complete hockey at 5-on-5 and have a massive goaltending advantage. They also had the seventh-best home record in the league this season, whereas the Pens have lost seven of their last nine road games, and New York went 3-1 in the head-to-head this season.
The Garden will be rocking for the Rangers’ return to playoff hockey, and we think they ride that momentum (and the on-ice advantages) to a Game 1 win.
Prediction: Rangers moneyline (-125 at bet365)
Scoring goals on Shesterkin is not an easy task for anyone, as he led the league in goals-against average (2.07), save percentage (.935), goals saved above expected (34.1), and was third in high-danger save percentage (.867%).
It was particularly tough for the Penguins, however, who faced the Rangers’ star netminder in all four of their regular-season matchups and managed goals totals of 1, 1, 2, and zero. Even more concerning than scoring four total goals is that the Penguins only had 9.51 expected goals in that quartet of games (per Moneypuck), meaning they weren’t exactly pouring on the high-quality chances against the Rangers’ defense.
On the flip side, New York only managed 11 goals in the season series — with five coming in one game — and had just 12.32 expected goals, so they weren’t far off their projected output.
Jarry also started all four of those games, so a little more offense from NYR might be expected with DeSmith in net, but the major takeaway here is that when the Rangers and Penguins squared off this season, low-scoring games were expected.
The Under 5.5 went 3-1 in the season series (the lone Over was a game that saw a whopping six goals) with an average of 5.46 expected goals per game and 3.75 actual goals per game.
Add in that playoff games generally feature tighter checking and more risk-aversed, structured defensive play — three of yesterday’s four playoff games saw at least one team score one or zero goals — and this looks like a recipe for yet another Under.
Prediction: Under 5.5 (-106 at Coolbet)
When the Rangers send Shesterkin out, it’s likely going to be a game that finishes Under.
Shesterkin’s games have finished below the total in three of his last four outings, 33 of his 51 contests this year, and he has a 1.85 GAA in 30 games at Madison Square Garden this season.
The Penguins have also seen the Under hit in four of their last six games heading into the postseason, scoring just one goal in three of those games.
So again, Pittsburgh is unlikely to score many goals tonight… but neither should New York. The Rangers were one of the best teams in terms of 5-on-5 CF% after the trade deadline, but that was mostly on the back of a defense that allowed the fourth-fewest shot attempts per 60 minutes (47.07), as the Blueshirts ranked just 18th in Corsi For/60.
As long as the Penguins stay out of the penalty box, which seems manageable as the Rangers drew the fifth-fewest penalties this season, they should be able to keep New York from hanging too crooked of a number tonight.
Pick: Under 5.5 (-106 at Coolbet)
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