The NHL is set up with another solid night of action on Thursday night as eleven games are up on the board. One of the matchups that will be on the board will be between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders. The Penguins will look to slow down the red hot Islanders in this game. The puck will drop for this matchup at around 7:00 PM Eastern time.
The Penguins have started out this season with a record of 8-6-1, which has them sitting in fourth place of the Metropolitan Division. Pittsburgh is one point out of the final wild card spot. The Penguins have lost their last two games but will look to bounce back and earn a much needed win against the Islanders on Thursday night.
New York is the hottest team in the NHL right now. The Islanders have earned a record of 11-3 to this point in the season, which has them in second place of the Metropolitan Division. New York has won ten games in a row after starting the season out 1-3. The Islanders will look to continue to extend this winning steak with another win on Thursday night.
The Penguins have had a solid start out to the season, but they are still a bit behind in the standings. If Pittsburgh can knock off the streaking Islanders, it could help boost them back into a winning streak. This game will be the first of three matchups in the next two weeks between these two teams. They will both look to set the tone with a win in this one.
The Penguins and the Islanders met up four times throughout the regular season last season. Pittsburgh hosted the first game, but fell 6-3 at home. The next game was in New York, where the Islanders won 3-2 off of a Josh Bailey goal in the shootout. The third game of the season was in Pittsburgh, where this time the Penguins won 6-2. The final game of the regular season was won by the Penguins 2-1 in a shootout.
Pittsburgh and New York met up once again in last season’s playoffs. The first game was hosted by the Islanders and it was an exciting one. After a back and forth matchup, Josh Bailey scored the game winning goal in overtime. That overtime win helped propel New York to four straight wins to sweep the Penguins. Robin Lehner posted a .967 save percentage through the next three games to help the Islanders win the series.
These two teams tied the season series 2-2 through the regular season. They played some close games as they required shootouts in two of the matchups. In the playoffs though, it was a different story. New York rode the momentum from their overtime win in Game 1 to a four game sweep. Now the Penguins will look for some revenge this season as they look to end the Islanders winning streak.
The Penguins power play has struggled so far this season. Pittsburgh’s power play has scored on only 6 of their 43 power play chances, which is a 14 percent. The Penguins penalty kill has done much better though. Pittsburgh has stopped 32 of the 37 power play attempts against them, which is an impressive 86.5 percent kill rate.
New York has found success on both sides of special teams so far this season. The Islanders have scored 5 goals on 24 chances, which is a 20.8 percent power play success rate. New York has denied goals to opponents on 35 of the 41 power plays against them. The Islanders have killed off 85.4 percent of their penalty kills.
Both of these teams have posted strong penalty kills this season. New York has a really strong power play so far, but they do not draw a lot of power plays. Pittsburgh is better at drawing power plays, but they have not been able to get their power play going consistently this season. I believe that the penalty kills will dominate this game, but if a team can capitalize on the power play, it might be enough to help them earn the win.
Matt Murray is expected to get the start in net for the Penguins. Murray has posted a record of 7-3-1 through his games this season. He has put up a save percentage of .917 and a 2.36 GAA. Murray’s last start came against the Boston Bruins. Murray had a tough night as he allowed three goals on 11 shots before he was pulled in the losing effort.
I expect Semyon Varlamov to get the nod in the crease in this matchup. Varlamov has gone 5-2 through seven starts this season. In those starts, Varlamov has earned a .929 save percentage and a GAA of 2.14. His last start came against the Buffalo Sabres, where he earned an impressive 27 shot shutout to help the Islanders earn their ninth straight win.
These two goalies have posted solid numbers to start out this season, but Varlamov has a slight advantage. Varlamov has posted slightly better numbers on the season and is coming off an impressive shutout in his last game. Murray got pulled in his last start and will look to bounce back to help his team get back in the winning column.
The Penguins got swept by New York in the first round of last season’s playoffs, but I believe that they will get some revenge with a win on Thursday night. Pittsburgh has been solid this season, but they have a tough task as they try and knock off the Islanders, who are on a ten game winning streak. All streaks come to an end though and I think New York’s ends on Thursday night.
BetOnline has the Islanders listed as a -107 against the money line in this game. This implies that New York will win this game 51.7 percent of the time. I like that this line is really close to even, but it gives some value to Pittsburgh. The Penguins will look to come out angry and looking for some revenge, which I believe will help lead to a fast start. I am taking the Penguins to pull off the upset on the road.