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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Predators defence could prevent Penguins repeat

Malkin set to lead attack for Pittsburgh

Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne has been consistently solid during the postseason
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Pittsburgh v Nashville
Game one: Premier Sports, 1am Tuesday

No team have retained the Stanley Cup since the NHL introduced a salary cap in 2005, but bookmakers are confident the Pittsburgh Penguins can become the first franchise to win back-to-back championships since the 1998 Detroit Red Wings.

The Penguins face first-time finalists Nashville in the best-of-seven series, and Sidney Crosby's crew had a much tougher time winning their conference than the Predators.

Nashville entered the playoffs as the lowest-ranked team in the Western Conference, but they made an immediate impact by whitewashing post-season specialists Chicago in their first-round series.

Comfortable 4-2 wins over St Louis and Anaheim mean they go into the finals relatively fresh, although they have lost centres Ryan Johansen and captain Mike Fisher to injury.

Pittsburgh, by contrast, needed seven games to get past regular-season heroes Washington and they booked their place in the finals via a second-overtime period winner against the playoffs' surprise package Ottawa.

It has been a team effort from Nashville. Goals have come from 16 different players and their dynamic defence, anchored by rock-solid goalie Pekka Rinne, have more than played their part.

The teams won a game apiece against each other in the regular season and if the occasion doesn't get to the Predators they look the better value bet to lift the Cup.

If Pittsburgh win, the best way to profit could be by backing Evgeny Malkin to win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoffs MVP.

Rinne heads the betting in that market, but if the Penguins offence proves too powerful for the Preds then Malkin is likely to play a leading role.

Malkin leads the post-season scoring with seven goals and 17 assists to put him four points ahead of captain Crosby, and the Russian looks value to repeat his 2009 Conn Smythe win.

Nashville to win series
1pt 6-4 bet365
E Malkin to win Conn Smythe trophy
1pt 5-1 Paddy Power

Nashville entered the playoffs as the lowest-ranked team in the Western Conference
E.W. Terms
Sky bet