The Vegas Golden Knights are acutely aware of what it feels like to squander a 3-1 series lead – and it’s a feeling they’d like very much to avoid as they host Minnesota in Game 7 of their first-round series Friday night. Vegas (43-16-3 SU, 30-30-2 O/U) comes in as a hefty favorite despite dropping consecutive games to the upstart Wild (38-19-5 SU, 35-26-1 O/U).
Opening Odds Analysis
The moneyline has seen slight movement since opening at Vegas -162, with the home team now installed in the -175 to -180 range. The total is locked in at 5, with the OVER at -135 and the UNDER at +115.
Minnesota News & Notes
Coming off three straight multi-goal losses, the Wild looked like they would go quietly into the offseason – but they’ve responded with vigor, outscoring the Golden Knights 7-2 over the past two games to force a seventh and deciding game. And if recent history is an indicator, an upset could be in the offing, with the Wild having gone 4-2-1 in seven games at T-Mobile Arena this season.
Scoring the first goal has proven critical in Game 7s, with the team to hit the scoresheet first owning an incredible .746 winning percentage all-time. Yet, while the Wild have struck first in four of six games in this first-round showdown, the three games that haven’t ended in a shutout have all seen the team scoring first go on to lose the contest.
Vegas News & Notes
The Golden Knights have been the most impressive NHL expansion franchise in more than 50 years, reaching the conference final in two of their first three seasons of existence. The lone miss? A first-round stunner to San Jose in which the Sharks rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the final three games, closing out the comeback with a 5-4 home victory in Game 7.
For Vegas to avoid a similar fate this year, it will need to get better goaltending than it has had the past two games. Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled mightily of late after looking sensational early in the series, and there’s talk he might be replaced in goal by Robin Lehner, who hasn’t played since May 10. On the plus side: Vegas coach Pete DeBoer is 5-0 all-time in Game 7s.
Betting Pick: Wild (+155)
This game should be more competitive than oddsmakers expect, especially if the Golden Knights are without winger Max Pacioretty (who is listed as questionable). You’re getting great odds on a Minnesota team that has looked like the superior team of late.
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