The last time New York appeared in the playoffs was in 2007 and the rust certainly showed in a 5-0 whitewash in Game 1 as a 191 road underdog. The total stayed UNDER the 5.5-goal line after going OVER in four of its last six regular season games. It was the first time the Islanders were shutout since dropping a 1-0 overtime decision to the Rangers on April 13, but this offense has been sputtering down the stretch with just five goals in three losses to close-out the season.
If they are going to have any chance at avoiding another lopsided loss, New York will need a much better effort from players such as John Tavares (28 goals and 19 assists), Matt Moulson (15 goals and 29 assists) and Michael Grabner (16 goals and 5 assists). Overall, the Islanders were ranked seventh in the NHL in scoring with an average of 2.8 goals a game. They will also need to find some way to slow Pittsburgh down but that could be very difficult with a defense that allowed 2.8 goals a game as well. Evgeni Nabokov never knew what hit him in Game 1 after giving-up four goals in the first 15 shots he faced. In relief, Kevin Poulin made 10 saves on the 11 shots he faced.
No Sidney Crosby for Game 1, no problem. The Penguins are so loaded with scoring threats that the absence of their captain and total point leader (15 goals and 41 assists) on Wednesday night was hardly even noticed. He will definitely be needed to take this team all the way to a Stanley Cup title, but against the Islanders in Game 1, Pittsburgh appeared to have the ability to score at will especially in the first two periods. Pascal Dupuis led the way with two goals and Beau Bennett, Tanner Glass and Kris Letang rounded-out the scoring with one goal each.
Marc-Andre Fleury got the start in net and pitched the shutout by stopping all 26 shots he faced. This was his sixth career shutout in the postseason with three of them coming in the first game of a series. Fleury compiled a goals-against-average of 2.39 and a .916 save percentage in 33 regular season games this year. While it has yet to be confirmed, you can expect him to get the call again for Game 2.
Islanders vs. Penguins Betting Lines and Trends
NHL odds list New York as a 209 road underdog with the Penguins listed as prohibitive 239 home favorites. The total for Game 2 has been set at 5.5.
The Islanders are 3-7 in their last 10 games against a team with a winning record and 13-40 in their last 53 games following a loss of three goals or more. The total has stayed UNDER in their last six Atlantic Division games.
The Penguins are 7-0 in their last seven games after scoring five of more goals in their previous outing and 8-2 in their last 10 games against the division. The total has stayed UNDER in 11 of their last 14 home games.
Head-to-head in this matchup, the home team is 19-9 in the last 28 meetings and the total has stayed UNDER in seven of the last 10 games played in Pittsburgh. New York has now lost five-straight games to the Penguins after winning the first regular season meeting this year.
Islanders vs. Penguins Free NHL Pick
I would not expect such a lopsided score in Friday night’s Game 2, but the Islanders are clearly outmatched when it comes to trying to slow Pittsburgh down. They will get a bit more production from their sharpshooters, but the free NHL pick is with the Penguins -1.5 on a very favorable +130 on the puck line.
Pittsburgh 4 New York 2 (lines provided by BetOnline)
YTD Free Picks Record: 31-18-2