Pens have ‘great opportunity’ to hoist Cup at home, but history says it won’t be easy

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Tonight in Pittsburgh, the Penguins have an opportunity to hoist the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time in franchise history.

And after watching the first four games of this series, many sports gamblers seem convinced it’s going to happen.

At online bookmaker Bovada, the Penguins are -175 favorites to beat the Sharks in Game 5. That means, if the Pens win, it would take a $175 bet to win $100. The first two games in Pittsburgh, the odds weren’t quite so stacked in favor of the home side.

According to a Bovada spokesperson, 75 percent of the action for Game 5 has been on the Pens. The line opened at -155.

“We’ve got a great opportunity,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby. “It hasn’t been done before here. For the support that we get here and what the fans mean to us, it’d be great. It’s going to take a big effort but it would be great if we could do it.”

If they can’t, it wouldn’t be the first time a home team failed to seal the deal in a similar situation.

Most recently, in 2012, the Kings had an opportunity to sweep Pete DeBoer’s Devils and win their first title in franchise history, only to lose Game 4, 3-1, at Staples Center. (The Kings would eventually win in six.)

More famously, in 1994, the Rangers were all ready to celebrate their first Cup since 1940, only to lose Game 5, 6-3, to the Canucks at MSG. (The Rangers would eventually win in seven.)

And, of course, there was that time in 2008 that the Red Wings could’ve clinched at Joe Louis Arena, only to lose Game 5, 4-3 in overtime, to Crosby’s Penguins. (The Wings would eventually win in six.)

So having been in the San Jose’s position, Crosby is fairly certain the Sharks won’t be an easy out tonight.

“They believe in their team,” he said. “They’re looking at it as one game and trying to get it back to San Jose, so their desperation level is going to be high. Ours has to be high as well.”