The New York Islanders face off against the New Jersey Devils for the second time in four days, so here’s the best betting pick for their East Division showdown on Sunday night along with the latest odds on BetRivers Sportsbook.
The Islanders beat the Devils this past Thursday, 4-1, as -175 home favorites with a total of 5.5 goals. This time, the Islanders head to Prudential Center as slight -138 favorites, searching for their third straight win over the Devils who’ll probably miss their starting goalie for the second straight game.
New York dominated the short-handed Devils on the home ice
The New York Islanders (3-1-0) had no problems beating the Devils last Thursday, taking full advantage of Mackenzie Blackwood’s absence. They stormed the front and took an early lead, as Mathew Barzal scored his second goal of the season, while Jordan Eberle made it 2-0 with 21 seconds left in the first period.
The Devils cut the deficit in the second period, but the Islanders netted a pair of power-play goals early in the third to seal the victory. New York finished with 35 shots, while Semyon Varlamov had 30 saves in another impressive outing.
Varlamov recorded a couple of shutouts in his first two starts of the season, and he’s now 3-0-0 with a 0.33 GAA and a .988 save percentage. Mathew Barzal tops the scoring chart with four points (G2, A2), while defensemen Noah Dobson and Nick Leddy had three assists each.
New Jersey misses some very important players
The New Jersey Devils (2-1-1) failed to cope with the Islanders on the road, but they couldn’t count on their starting goalie Mackenzie Blackwood, defenseman Sami Vatanen, winger Jesper Bratt, and center Nico Hischier. The quartet will remain at the shelf, and Blackwood’s absence is certainly the biggest blow for New Jersey.
The 24-year-old goaltender guarded the cage in the first three games of the season, posting a 2-0-1 record with a 1.90 GAA and a .948 save percentage. Scott Wedgewood got the starting nod against the Islanders and yielded four goals on 35 shots in his first NHL appearance since the 2017-18 season.
Center Jack Hughes leads the way for skaters with two goals and four assists. Winger Miles Wood scored three goals along with one assist, while defenseman Ty Smith added one goal and three assists. The Devils needs more from winger Kyle Palmieri who’s still searching for his first goal of the campaign. Last season, Palmieri tallied 25 goals and 20 dishes in 65 games.
- 6-1 in the last seven games against New Jersey
- 13-4 in the last 17 games played on Sunday
- 4-11 in the last 15 home tilts against the Islanders
- 5-15 in the last 20 home games played in January
The Islanders want to keep the momentum on their side against the short-handed rival. The Devils will have a difficult time finding the net, while their defense will have to lean on Scott Wedgewood once again.
The hosts don’t want to concede first, and that could easily happen, considering Blackwood’s absence. Last season, the Islanders went 23-8-5 when scoring first and 15-3-3 when leading after the first period.
Pick: Take New York Islanders at -138
The Islanders are well-known as a tough defensive team. They allowed just six goals through the first four games, surrendering 28.5 shots per contest which are the 11th-fewest in the NHL. The Devils are yielding the second-most shots per game (37.5), but the Islanders won’t rush things, especially if they take the lead.
The under has hit in New York’s last six games dating back to the previous season. The over will hit eventually, but considering that the under is 11-4 in the Devils’ last 15 showings, I’ll go against the betting trends some other time.
Pick: Go under 5.5 goals at -128