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Coyotes Ready to End Their Drought vs. Penguins

Penguins vs Coyotes Betting Odds

The Pittsburgh Penguins visit an old friend Sunday night as they make the trek to Arizona – and Phil Kessel might wish he were on the other side of this matchup if trends hold. Kessel's Coyotes have struggled mightily in recent years against the Penguins, having lost nine of the last 11 meetings going into this one – including a 2-0 decision in Pittsburgh last month.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Arizona Coyotes

Opening Odds Analysis

These teams opened as a virtual toss-up in oddsmakers' eyes – and if it holds, it'll mark the first time since 2008 that the Penguins haven't been an outright favorite vs. the Coyotes. The total opened up at 5.5 goals.

Pittsburgh Penguins News & Notes

The Washington Capitals have made things difficult, but Pittsburgh is still making incremental gains in its quest to assume the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. Back-to-back wins have moved the Penguins to within six points of the Capitals – and with the imminent return of star Sidney Crosby from a lengthy groin injury, Pittsburgh is well-positioned to make this a race.

As for Crosby, he practiced with the team in full Saturday and has an outside shot at making his return Sunday following a 27-game absence. Crosby, who has 17 points in 17 games this season, participated in line rushes and also took his spot on the top power play unit; the Penguins could use his help there, entering Sunday ranked 21st in PP success rate (17.9 percent).

Arizona Coyotes News & Notes

It hasn't been a great first year in the desert for Kessel, who was traded to Arizona by the Penguins last June. The 32-year-old is on pace for his worst season in more than a decade, having scored just nine goals with 18 assists through his first 47 games. He also has a team-worst minus-19 rating on the year; the next worst rating on the team is Derek Stepan's minus-6.

But Kessel is hardly the only player to blame for the Coyotes' season-long offensive struggles. Conor Garland leads the team with just 14 goals on the year, ranking outside the top-65 league-wide. That said, Arizona's special teams at Gila River Arena have been terrific, with the team boasting the No. 13 home power play (21.9 percent) while ranking No. 2 on the PK (89.5 percent).

Betting Pick: Arizona ML

With the Penguins wrapping up a challenging road stretch and Arizona seething after being blanked in back-to-back games, we like the home team to bounce back at decent odds.

Shark Bites
  • Pittsburgh is 7-1 SU in its last eight road games.
  • Arizona is 2-7 SU in its last nine games as a Pick 'Em.
  • The OVER is 9-2 in Arizona's last 11 home games.