New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) celebrates his goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
- The Pittsburgh Penguins are -132 home favorites as they face the New York Islanders (+110 road underdogs) on Thursday, February 18th, 2021
- Pittsburgh had lost ten of the previous 14 matchups versus New York, including last year’s playoff sweep
- Pittsburgh is off to a 7-6-1 start but has won five of their six home games this season
The New York Islanders found a way to play the Pittsburgh Penguins and exploit their weaknesses for the most part. It did not matter whether Pittsburgh played at a faster pace or not. New York’s ability to adapt well and score timely goals often frustrated the Penguins at every turn.
Overall, New York had won ten of the last 14 meetings while scoring three or more goals in 12 of those contests. Pittsburgh’s offense was held to two or fewer goals in six of these contests. However, they have tallied three or more goals in each of the last five encounters (all decided by one goal).
Pittsburgh’s home record is a big reason why they are currently a slight favorite at -132 in the Islanders vs Penguins odds. The puck drops Thursday, February 18th, 2021 is at 7 PM EST. The game is being carried by NHL Network and MSG+. Pittsburgh and New York last played on February 11th with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning by a score of 4-3.
New York Islanders vs Pittsburgh Penguins Odds
|New York Islanders||+102||+1.5 (-265)||O 5.5 (-110)|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||-118||-1.5 (+215)||U 5.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Feb. 17th at DraftKings
The Islanders have bounced back from a considerable dip in scoring thanks in large part due to the offensive resurgence of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The middle-six winger is more known for his defensive acumen but his speed has been on full display of late.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau became the eighth player in @NYIslanders history to score in the first period of four consecutive games and first since Matt Moulson (7-1—8 in 4 GP from Nov. 26 – Dec. 3, 2011).
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 17, 2021
After two games where the New York center went pointless, Pageau has hit the back of the net five times and chipped in with nine hits and an assist.
Need More Malkin
While Pageau has been a center of attention for New York, Malkin has been anything but for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Pittsburgh center has not had a single multi-point effort all season long (14 games). In that span, Malkin has just seven points while totaling 3+ shots on only four occasions. Then, there is this one sobering fact.
The Capitals played at a level last night that the Penguins haven’t come close to reaching. Teddy Blueger now has more points than Evgeni Malkin. The fourth line is atrocious. So was the blue line last night. Much to discuss. Read about it here: https://t.co/XAjNkHe09W
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) February 17, 2021
Pittsburgh was hoping that Malkin’s recent four-game point streak was a sign of better things, but the last game against Washington saw a lot of the same perimeter-based attack from the center. With Pittsburgh yielding 3.6 goals per game, the center is needed as a secondary scoring punch to complement Sidney Crosby’s line.
Pittsburgh forwards Jared McCann and Evan Rodrigues will not play on Thursday night. Both are on the injured reserve due to lower-body injuries.
Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin, out since January 26th with a lower-body ailment, is still on the injured reserve. Marcus Pettersson (defenseman) returned on Tuesday night, and Casey DeSmith (goaltender) is back in the lineup as well.
Full NHL Injury Report👇 https://t.co/QaiIjfhZJ6
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) February 11, 2021
Casey DeSmith may play as soon as Thursday night against the New York Islanders, but Jared McCann has been downgraded to week-to-week.
Islanders Heating Up
The Islanders went on a bit of a lull but have won three straight games since their 4-3 loss to the Penguins last Thursday. That included two dominant performances against the Buffalo Sabres and a win versus the Boston Bruins.
New York has enjoyed success against the Penguins mainly because they tend to be able to adapt better against Pittsburgh than vice versa. The Islanders can score in bunches and play defensively too.
Ilya Sorokin made 20 saves to earn his first NHL win in a 3-0 victory for the Islanders against the Sabres.
Anders Lee scored twice, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and an assist for New York, which is 5-0-3 in its past eight games. https://t.co/Dpzcmhf1qd
— NHL.com (@NHLdotcom) February 17, 2021
The Islanders’ recent 5-0-3 run has boosted their defensive and offensive numbers. Overall, New York has allowed just 2.2 goals per game (4th-best in the NHL) while yielding 27.4 shots per contest (also 4th best). Pittsburgh’s biggest weakness has been their defense — allowing 3.57 goals per game with a 73.9% penalty kill.
New York’s power play is converting at 21.7% (15th), compared to just 14.3% for the Penguins (24th).
Pick: New York Islanders (+102)
A journalist veteran for over two decades, Chris has taught the gamut of fantasy hockey sports online from injuries to news to prospects, and more. He has bet on several sports and written sports betting articles about the NBA, MLB, NCAA football, the NFL, and NHL for USA Today.