Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins will look to avoid the big upset when they play host to Mathew Barzal and the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday.
Pittsburgh won the East Division title in a tie-breaker over Washington after both teams finished with an identical 77 points. The Islanders finished in fourth place in the division, six points back. The Penguins have the look of a team offering a ton of value as the home favorite in Game 1.
Islanders vs Pittsburgh Pick Line
- NY Islanders +1½ (-240)
- Pittsburgh -1½ (+200)
- Total: 5
- NY Islanders +110
- Pittsburgh -130
Isles Need to Shape Up
New York hits the playoffs clearly not playing its best hockey. The Islanders dropped four of their last five and seven of 10 overall. New York was on the wrong end of a 3-2 overtime loss against Boston on Monday.
Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom scored for the Islanders. Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves and Ilya Sorokin turned back 10 shots. Varlamov wasn’t on the bench after the second intermission.
“He had a little strain. He could have finished. We said: ’Let’s not take any chances,'” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “If it was a playoff game, I’m pretty sure he would have finished.”
The Islanders have been phenomenal defensively this season in finishing second in goals allowed (2.2 GPG). The bad news is that New York often struggles to score and finished 20th in the category by averaging 2.7 goals per game. The Isles went 11-13-2 on the road this season.
Penguins on Cruise Control
The playoffs have yet to begin, but you’d never know it the way Pittsburgh closed out the regular season. The Penguins won five of their final six games while going 18-6 over their last 24. Pittsburgh got past Buffalo 1-0 in its regular-season finale on Saturday. Jeff Carter scored and Maxime Lagace turned back 29 shots to get his first career shutout in his first start in more than two years.
“Probably, what I’ll remember most is when the buzzer sounded,” Lagace said. “It was such a relief. Within the last four minutes, I’d say I started to think about the shutout. It was creeping into my head a little bit and I wanted it so bad.”
While Pittsburgh finished 14th in goals allowed (2.8 GPG), the Penguins were outstanding when it came to putting the puck in the back of the net. Pittsburgh finished second in scoring by averaging 3.4 goals per game on 30.1 shot attempts per contest (11th).
Islanders vs Penguins Game Information
- When: Sunday, May 16, 2021, at 12 p.m. ET
- Where: Capital One Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
- Islanders vs Pittsburgh Live Stream: NHL.TV
Penguins Overpower Islanders
Pittsburgh won six of the eight regular-season meetings against the Islanders while scoring at least four goals in four of those wins and holding New York to a goal or less three times.
The Islanders are 2-5 in their last seven playoff games as an underdog and 2-8 in their last 10 road games. Pittsburgh is an insane 40-13 in its last 53 as a home favorite, 6-2 in their last eight following a win and 12-4 in their last 16 against a team with a winning record.
The Penguins are also 36-16-2 in their last 54 home dates against the Islanders and 6-1 in the last seven meetings. The Favorite is 6-2 in the last eight meetings and the home team is 5-1 in the last six meetings. Add it all up, and it equals an emphatic Puck Line win for the Penguins.