Imagine two of the world’s highest-rated chess players repeatedly matching wits, strategically striking, and counter-striking. That’s what the Penguins-Islanders series has been so far and will likely continue to be, as the scene shifts to Nassau Coliseum for one final playoff run before the Islanders move into their new Belmont-area digs this fall.
Let’s take a look at Game 3 of this first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup from a betting perspective in our Islanders vs. Penguins betting preview with odds, picks, and predictions.
The old barn has seen some great games, with a lot of edge-of-your-seat action, and it’s not done just yet because everything we expected between these two teams has played out to this point.
If you expect either the Penguins or the Islanders to simply come out and crush their opponent in a playoff game, you are waiting for Godot because it’s not happening. Instead, you are getting close, intense, and spirited playoff hockey.
The Penguins evened the series with a 2-1 win on Tuesday night, scoring twice in the first period (including our pick of Jeff Carter to score at +270), and then held on to win behind strong goaltending from Tristan Jarry (37 saves). Not to be overlooked was the play in the goal of Semyon Varlamov, who made 43 saves in defeat for the Islanders.
As well as the goalies played, both teams were able to get a lot of shots on goal. We expect Game 3 to be played in a similar fashion.
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Islanders vs. Penguins Betting Pick (May 20, 2021)
It’s all about the 5-on-5 play between these two teams as neither power play has been able to break through in the first two games of this series. At this juncture, a power play goal would be considered a huge bonus.
Instead, both teams are fighting for space on the ice. Once they win a 50/50 battle in the offensive zone, they are immediately looking to get shots on goal, foregoing cute pass plays or setting up an offense. It’s all about getting volume to the net and letting the goalie that makes fewer mistakes win. Tonight should be no different.
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Islanders vs. Penguins Game 3 Odds
Here are the Islanders vs. Penguins Game 3 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|Penguins||+1.5 (-286)||-105||O 5.5 (+115)|
|Islanders||-1.5 (+230)||-110||U 5.5 (-139)|
Penguins Bets We Like With a Pittsburgh Win
Jake Guentzel OVER 0.5 goals (+182, FanDuel)
Guentzel hasn’t been able to get on the scoreboard in the first two games of this series, and that’s frustrating for the Penguins’ leading goal-scorer. Still, the odds are in his favor to finally light the lamp tonight, especially if you believe the Penguins are going to win Game 3.
You can’t count on the power play with the Islanders’ stifling kill, but Guentzel is a staple there if Pittsburgh gets some chances. More than anything, the Penguins need their top line to come through. Crosby had a goal in Game 1. Bryan Rust got on the board in Game 2. Game 3 will be Jake Guentzel’s turn.
Islanders Bets We Like With a New York Win
Islanders – 1.5 AND UNDER 6.5 goals (+340, DraftKings)
OK, this seems especially exotic considering how much we’ve talked about the series being close, but hear us out.
The Islanders are excellent at home. They are especially good when they score first (15-0-2). If the Islanders can jump out on the Penguins first, chasing a game in that building is a terribly difficult proposition. It usually leads to teams having to do something desperate – like pull the goalie, which could set up for an empty net goal.
Additionally, the Islanders nearly doubled the output of third-period goals by their opponents at home this season (34-18). Think about that, they only allowed 18 goals in the third period in 26 games, more evidence that getting the last line change at home weighs heavily in the favor of a coach like Barry Trotz who likes to play the matchups.
This isn’t going to be a blowout, but a 3-1 or 4-2 game seems to make a lot of sense for the Islanders, so tease up the total by a puck, take the Isles to cover the 1.5, and make some nice bank on a hard-fought game.
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Bets We Like Independent of Outcome
Islanders to LEAD after the first period (+178, FanDuel)
As good as the Islanders are at home in the third period, they’re even better in the first. Through 28 regular season games, the Islanders outscored their opponents by a 34-14 margin in the first period. They had the lead 17 times, trailed only five times and were tied only six times. They are accustomed to getting off to a fast start at home, which makes this a good value bet.
Islanders vs. Penguins Prediction
When a series is this close, it’s hard to pick winners, and although we got both Games 1 and 2 correct, a series like this gets harder and harder to nail down as it progresses.
That said, there’s nothing fun about the playoffs on Long Island for the road team. It’s always intimidating. The facilities are subpar, and playing against a stifling defense with good goaltending is a drag, all while the Islanders relish it.
This game has a two-goal cushion feel to it. We don’t ever expect a shutout, but in this case, we wouldn’t be surprised.
Nevertheless, the Islanders will take the series lead and set up a pivotal Game 4 on Saturday. Call it 4-2, New York.
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