In what may be the tightest 1-vs-4 first round matchup, the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the defensive juggernaut New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh comes into the series as one of the hottest teams in the league, with a 10-3-1 record over the last month, and went 6-2 SU against New York this year, including 4-0 SU at home. The Islanders, on the other hand, faded down the stretch and finished 3-7 SU over their last 10.
Here are our free NHL betting picks and predictions for Islanders vs. Penguins for Sunday, May 16 (12:00 p.m. ET).
Islanders vs Penguins game info
• Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
• Date: Sunday, May 16, 2021
• Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
• TV: NBC
Islanders vs Penguins series odds
Islanders vs Penguins odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Compare NHL odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
NHL Sharp Money and Line Movement ReportBy Patrick Everson
FanDuel on Thursday pegged Pittsburgh a -142 favorite for Game 1 of this playoff series, dipped to -126 Friday, rose to -138 late last night and is at -134 at 11:15 a.m. ET today, shortly before puck drop. The Penguins are attracting 77 percent of moneyline bets and 83 pecent of moneyline cash. The total opened at 5.5 (Under -120) and is now 5.5 (Under -148), with the Under taking 52 percent of bets/56 percent of money.Check out the full line movement for this game
Islanders at Penguins betting preview
Islanders: Semyon Varlamov G (Probable), Anders Lee F (Out).
Penguins: Mike Matheson D (Probable), Evgeni Malkin F (Probable).
Find our latest NHL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 4-1-1 in the Penguins’ last six games as a favorite. Find more NHL betting trends for Islanders vs. Penguins.
It’s crazy to think that the Penguins went 17-6-2 without Geno Malkin in the lineup down the stretch. Now, the hot Penguins will have their best secondary scorer for a series they’re favored to win against an opponent they’ve dominated all year.
The Penguins had the Islanders’ number all season and have taken six of the last seven. The Pens haven’t covered much in those wins, going 2-4 ATS on the -1.5, but have found ways to win against one of the stingiest teams in hockey.
Pittsburgh didn’t make it out of the play-in last postseason, as it ran into a hot Carey Price in net for Montreal and deserved a better fate than losing the series 3-1. It will also look to avenge a 4-0 first round exit in 2019 at the hands of the Islanders.
New York turned some heads in the playoffs a year ago, making it to the conference finals and ultimately losing to the eventual champions, the Lightning, in six games. A huge reason for the success was the play of goalie Semyon Varlamov. Heading into game one, we aren’t as high on the Islanders’ backstop as others might be.
Varlamov exited the Islanders’ final regular season game and didn’t skate the following two days. Barry Trotz, the 2019 coach of the year, told reporters that his goalie is fine and will start.
Varlamov posted a Top-5 goals against average (2.04) and the best save percentage (min. 25 starts) in the NHL at .929. Those are obviously fantastic peripherals, but Varlamov didn’t fare as well against quality opponents this season — especially the Penguins.
Varlamov went 1-5 SU against the Pens this season and 2-4 SU versus the Capitals — the East’s top two teams. He padded his stats against the division’s weakest but wilted against the best. He posted a .896 save percentage against the Pens this year with a 2.86 GAA. Varlamov also gave up a ton of even-strength goals, as 16 of the 19 goals he allowed to the Penguins came at 5-on-5.
Pittsburgh's starting goalie, Tristan Jarry, was the recipient of those Islanders' losses as Jarry went 5-1 SU versus the Isles this year. He also was 11-5-1 against the division’s three other playoff teams with a .923 save percentage.
If Pittsburgh gets ahead, the Islanders aren't a team that is built to play catch-up. New York finished with a .235 winning percentage when trailing after the first period, which is the worst mark out of any playoff team.
With a season of success against their opponent and entering the postseason as one of the hottest teams in the league, we’re rolling with the home side on the ML.
PREDICTION: Penguins (-125)
If you’ve bet totals on the Islanders, you’re used to the number five. No team in the league has seen more 5 totals this year than the Islanders, who were 4-0-3 O/U on totals of 5. It takes a lot of courage to hit an Under 5, especially when the series went 4-2-2 O/U on the total. All it takes is two goals from each side and we don’t lose money.
Jarry has just one game of NHL playoff experience under his belt, and although it was a great performance, there is still some uncertainty.
The Islanders own a below-average offense (2.71 goals per game) but still scored at least three goals in four of their six losses to the Pens this year.
Taking a look at special teams, we see two separate power plays that are sitting in the Top-10 over the last month, and now the Penguins will add All-Star Geno Malkin to the equation. Pittsburgh also owns the league’s fifth-worst penalty kill, which could only help the Islanders reach that magical number of two.
You won’t find us hitting the Under button on a 5 often and Sunday is no exception. Playing the Over 5 means getting excited for the push and celebrating if we hit the Over.
Another great tactic is to play the live Over 4.5. Game ones tend to be a little slow in the early going as players feel things out, and around the six-minute mark the live total should dip down and hit a playable 4.5, which includes overtime. This total could easily close at 5.5.
PREDICTION: Over 5 (-138)
Islanders vs Penguins betting card
- Penguins (-125)
- Over 5 (-138)
Picks made on 5/15/2021 at 7:35 p.m. ET
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