Free Picks: Islanders vs. Penguins, 2021 Stanley Cup Round 1

New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins NHL Stanley Cup 2021 Round 1
Islanders vs. Penguins, Round 1, New York Islanders won series, 4-2

The New York Islanders are moving on to Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they will face the Boston Bruins. The Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday to clinch the best-of-seven series in six games.

Series Results: New York Islanders Won Series, 4-2

The New York Islanders got two goals and an assist from Brock Nelson on Wednesday to spark a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to clinch their first-round series in six games. The Islanders won the last three games of the series.

Anthony Beauvillier had a goal and two assists while Ilya Sorokin made 34 saves (.919 save percentage) and won each of his four starts in the series.

Tristan Jarry struggled again in the Pittsburgh goal with a .792 save percentage. Pittsburgh squandered three leads and the Islanders responded with three goals in 2:59, including two in 13 seconds, to break open the game in the second period.

Game 1

Sunday, May 16, 4:00 p.m., PPG Paints Arena

The best sports today is taking the Penguins on the Money Line (-125) with 10Bet. It’s a safe bet and likely to pay off considering that the Penguins are 5-1 Straight Up in their last six games.

They were dominant over New York in the regular season, and Sidney Crosby is still hungry for another Stanley Cup. In addition, Evgeni Malkin could be back in the lineup, but he was listed as a game-time decision. Jeff Carter took Malkin’s place on the second line during line rushes on Saturday.

The NHL odds favor the Penguins and why not? They are so talented throughout the lineup, and they added Jeff Carter at the trade deadline, and when he’s on, he can take over a game by himself.

For my Free Picks and predictions, I think I would go with the Under (+109) with 10Bet, even though this is a little on the risky side with the Over/Under line set at 5.0 and considering the firepower the Penguins can bring. With any other team, I might take the Over, but you’re dealing with the Islanders here, who love to play non-event hockey and keep chances to a minimum.

This series will be a battle between Pittsburgh’s offense and New York’s defense. The Islanders have two solid netminders in Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin. Varlamov will likely be the starter in Game 1. Among goalies to play at least 25 games this season, Varlamov led the NHL with a .929 save percentage.

But don’t let that determine your betting interests because the Penguins were able to solve Varlamov during the regular season. In seven games against Pittsburgh, Varlamov was 1-3-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and an .897 save percentage.

The Penguins counter with Tristan Jarry in goal. But he is inexperienced. If he starts on Sunday, this would only be his second NHL postseason start.

The Penguins come into this series on a roll while the Islanders hit a dry patch going down the stretch. The Islanders lost four of their five final regular-season games.

I would lean toward taking the Penguins on the Puck Line too (-1.5) with 10Bet (+216), which carries a fair of risk. But a small-unit play seems good value because the Penguins have momentum on their side, and they are 6-4 Against The Spread in their last 10 games.


Game 2 (Islanders lead 1-0)

May 18, 7:30 p.m., PPG Paints Arena

The Islanders must be considered a surprise winner in Game 1 on Sunday because the Penguins dominated them all season, going 6-2 in head-to-head matchups.

The Islanders have not been known as a high-scoring team, so to put up four goals against Pittsburgh was a bit of a shock. And Kyle Palmieri was a surprise hero, potting two goals, including the winner in overtime. Palmieri had been underperforming almost from the time he was acquired from New Jersey at the trade deadline with Travis Zajac.

The best sports bet today is taking the Islanders (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-259) with 10Bet. You win if the Islanders win or lose by only one goal. The implied odds say that has a 72% chance of cashing.

The NHL odds favor the Penguins (-1.5) and betting the Penguins (+197) with 10Bet carries the most risk, but biggest potential payout (bet $100 to win $197). The Penguins would have to win by at least two goals, and the implied odds suggest there is only a 33% chance of that happening.

For my Free Picks, the Under (5.5) is the safer bet (-155) in the total goals market, and the wise one considering it’s not likely we see seven goals like we saw in Game 1. The Under is 6-2-2 in Islanders’ last 10 games following a win.

On the Money Line, the Penguins are the safer bet (-135) and that would be the play. The Penguins are 40-14 in their last 54 games as a home favorite.

The underdog Islanders (+110) have a 47% chance of winning, according to those implied odds by 10Bet. The Islanders are 2-5 in their last seven games following a win and they are 3-8 in their last 11 road games.

On Sunday, rookie Ilya Sorokin was solid in goal for the Islanders with a .929 save percentage. Tristan Jarry had a .902 save percentage in the Pittsburgh goal.

The Islanders goaltending situation will be interesting to watch. Sorokin started in place of Semyon Varlamov, who was held back for precautionary reasons after suffering a strain in New York’s regular-season final game of the regular season.

Pittsburgh played without forward Evgeni Malkin. He was a game-time decision after he did not participate in line rushes for power-play drills in practice the day before. He could be the x-factor in this series.



Game 3 (series tied 1-1)

May 20, 7:00 p.m., Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

Islanders-Penguins series comes down to goaltending

Bryan Rust and Jeff Carter scored goals for Pittsburgh, while Josh Bailey replied for New York. Semyon Varlamov made 43 saves for the Islanders, but he let in a soft goal by Rust.

The Islanders always play better at home, and my Expert Picks suggest this is going to be another tight game that will likely go down to the wire again. Pittsburgh’s offense is missing Evgeni Malkin, who has resumed practicing. But it’s not clear when he will return to the lineup.

Mathew Barzal, the Islanders’ best forward, has yet to pick up a point in the Islanders’ first two games. So he is due. Sometimes he tries to do too much and make plays on his own. The longer he stays cold, the better I like Pittsburgh’s chances in this series.

For my Free Picks, I am taking the Islanders to win Straight Up at home. But the NHL odds (-110) with 10Betsuggest this game is a toss-up and going with Pittsburgh (-110) will get you the same return. Pittsburgh is 4-1 SU in their last five games. The Islanders are 2-5 SU in their last seven games.

Taking the Islanders on the Puck Line (-1.5) carries the most risk and highest reward (+225) with 10Bet. If the Islanders win by two goals, your $100 bet will pay $225. The Islanders are 7-3 Against the Spread in their last 10 games.

A safer bet is taking Pittsburgh (+1.5) on the Puck Line (-300) if you think the Penguins can win or lose by less than two goals. But these odds are expensive, costing you three times your potential payout (bet $300 to win $100). Pittsburgh is 4-6 ATS in their last 10 games.

The Under (5.5) is the safest bet on total goals (-144) with 10Bet, but if you believe goals will start to come more freely, betting the Over (+113) with 10Bet will have a bigger payout. The total has gone Over in five of the Islanders’ last six games when playing at home against Pittsburgh.


Game 4 (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)

May 22, 3:00 p.m., Nassau Coliseum

Islanders in a must-win situation in Game 4

Teams that win Game 3 after a best-of-seven is tied 1-1 have a 67.6% likelihood of going on to win the series. It was a disappointing loss for the Islanders, who trailed 3-1 going into the third period before mounting a comeback.

The Penguins are getting great production from Jeff Carter. He scored to give Pittsburgh a 4-3 lead on a power play in the third period. He also scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 on Tuesday. He has scored 12 goals in 17 games since being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Kings on April 12.

The Penguins are showcasing their balanced attack. When Sidney Crosby isn’t scoring, he is helping out on the defense. Crosby made a diving block on an open-net chance by the Islanders after Tanev had scored to put Pittsburgh ahead.

And although Pittsburgh’s top line of Crosby, Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel was held without a point, the Penguins found enough offense elsewhere to win. At some point, that top line is going to break out. Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin rejoined the Penguins lineup after missing the first two playoff games.

Suddenly, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov is looking suspect. For the second straight game, he allowed an early goal. In Game 3, Kris Letang scored at 2:03 of the first period on a deflection from the point. In Game 2, Rust scored 3:22 into Game 2.

Varlamov had a terrible .815 save percentage. And Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry wasn’t much better (.867).

The best sports bet today is taking the Penguins (-110) on the Money Line with 10Bet. Pittsburgh is 5-1 Straight Up in their last six games.They are in the driver’s seat, but if you like the Islanders’ chances to bounce back at home, they are (-110) even odds. The Islanders are 2-6 SU in their last eight games.

When I’m making my NHL playoff predictions, I sometimes predict a score. In Game 4, I like the Penguins to win 3-2. I like the Penguins (+1.5) to cover (-300) since all the games have been one-goal affairs.

A riskier bet is taking the Islanders (-1.5) Against The Spread (+225). Those NHL playoff odds suggest the Islanders have only a 30% chance of covering, so go lightly if you think New York can win by at least two goals.

The Stanley Cup odds favor the Under (5.5) at (-138) and I’ve got to believe this game is a lot tighter than the nine-goal explosion we saw in Game 3. Bet $138 to win $100.

But neither Varlamov nor Tristan Jarry has been lights-out brilliant in goal, so maybe you think the offenses will light it up again.

In that case, the Over (5.5) is priced at (+109) odds, which gives you more of a payout (bet $100 to win $109). The total has gone Over in five of Pittsburgh’s last seven games.



Game 5 (Series tied 2-2)

May 24, 07:00 p.m., PPG Paints Arena

Penguins favored in Game 5, but will goaltending hold up?

Ilya Sorokin has won his two starts in his first Stanley Cup playoff run. The rookie made 39 saves in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 before Semyon Varlamov returned from injury and started the next two. Varlamov has struggled and allowed five goals on 27 shots in a 5-4 Game 3 loss on Thursday.

The Islanders have confidence in both goalies, but Varlamov has been showing a tendency to give up a weak goal early in the game. The Penguins scored against Varlamov 3:22 into Game 2 and 2:01 into Game 3.

Tristan Jarry did not have a great game in the Pittsburgh goal with an .846 save percentage. Sorokin’s save percentage was .967.

The Islanders were 2-for-5 on the power play. The Penguins were 0-for-1. The Penguins played an undisciplined game, taking too many penalties, and this could be their downfall.

The NHL odds still favor the Penguins. They are 15-9 (.625) winning a best-of-seven series that is tied 2-2. The Islanders are 5-6 (.455). Pittsburgh is not getting enough from Evgeni Malkin, who had six penalty minutes and did not have a shot on goal.

The Penguins let the Islanders off the hook. This game was the first time the Islanders had scored two power-play goals in the same period of a playoff game since the 2016 playoffs.

For my Bet Picks, I am looking at the Puck Line, Money Line and Total goals.

My NHL picks today are with Pittsburgh on the Money Line (-135) with 10Bet. I think they are more comfortable playing  at home. And it’s only a matter of time before Sidney Crosby and his line show up. Pittsburgh is 5-1 SU in their last six games when playing at home against NY Islanders.

But this series is a coin flip, so taking the Islanders (+110) Straight Up with 10Bet is a good underdog risk, paying $110 on a $100 bet. But be cautious. The Islanders are 1-4 SU in their last five games on the road.

The Stanley Cup odds have the Penguins (-1.5) favored on the Puck Line (+181), but go lightly here because this is the riskiest play on the main markets.

But if you see Pittsburgh winning by at least goals, this bet will have the biggest payout. The Islanders (+1.5) are a safer bet (-236) on the Puck Line. They are 3-2 ATS on the road in their last 10 games.

The Over/Under favors the Under (5.5) with 10Bet (-133), and that’s a safe bet. The Over (+105) will give you a better return for just a little bit more risk. The implied odds suggest a 48% chance of the total going Over.


Game 6 (Islanders lead series 3-2)

May 26, 06:30 p.m., Nassau Coliseum

Islanders can close out the Penguins on Wednesday

The Islanders can close out their opening-round series against the Penguins on Wednesday. So far, I’ve been calling for the Penguins to take this series. But I’m shifting towards the Islanders, mainly because of the goaltending.

In the playoffs, you can’t win a series with weak goaltending and the Penguins have been weaker in goal. In Monday’s 3-2 win over the Penguins, Ilya Sorokin made 48 saves (.960 save percentage)m to preserve the victory while Josh Bailey was the scoring hero in overtime.

Sorokin looks like he’s taking control of the Islanders net situation over regular starter Semyon Varlamov. Teams that win Game 5 after a 2-2 tie are 213-58 (78.5%), so the lean here is to the Islanders.

Sorokin became the first Islander goalie to win his first three playoff games. He made 39 saves in a 4-3 overtime win in Game 1 and 29 saves in a 4-1 win in Game 4. Varlamov started when New York lost Games 2 and 3.

Tristan Jarry was again mediocre in the Penguins goal (.893 save percentage) and gave up the winner on a careless turnover. I’m always, or almost always, going to favor the team with the strongest goaltending, even though I like Pittsburgh’s offense better than New York’s.

Looking at this Stanley Cup playoffs prediction, I think the Islanders win another close one, 3-2 in Game 6.

I think betting on the Islanders will be your best NHL bet for this game.

I am confident in the Islanders for this NHL playoff pick because the momentum is on their side. I have been surprised by the lack of scoring from Sidney Crosby and his No. 1 line with Bryan Rust and Jake Guentzel.

I would never have predicted that Crosby would have only one goal and one assist through the first five games.

When I’m making my BetPicks, I look at the Money Line, Puck Line and the Over/Under.

I’m taking the Islanders to win Straight Up (-110, 10Bet) although the Penguins have the same odds (-110) on the Money Line. That’s how close this series is. Basically a coin flip.

On the Puck Line, the riskiest play is taking the Islanders (-1.5) to win by at least two goals (+225, 10Bet) and I’m not willing to take that bet because every game except one has been decided by one goal and two have gone into overtime.

The safest bet is Pittsburgh on the Puck Line (+1.5) to win or not lose by more than a goal (-300, 10Bet), but that is expensive at three times the potential payout (bet $300 to win $100) and that’s not a good long-term strategy.

On the Over/Under market, I’m leaning toward the Under (-138, 10Bet) because three of the five games have gone Under 5.5 goals. The Over (+109, 10Bet) carries more risk, but has a better payout.




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have always wanted to be a writer and sports are my favorite thing in the world, so I combined the two to make a career. I have been a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn't afraid to look at the underdog or specials. I am covering the NHL, MLB and NCAA Football for and am a huge fan of both sports - as well as many others. Follow me on Twitter (@Patrick_Trudeau) so we can talk betting, sports, or why ketchup DOES belong on Poutine.