The Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders will face off against each other for the first time this shortened season on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, so here’s the best betting pick for their East Division showdown at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
Both Buffalo and New York are off to a slow start, especially the Islanders who opened as -130 favorites to beat the Sabres on PointsBet Sportsbook. The hosts will be fired up to stop their slide, but the Sabres won’t be an easy rival to beat.
Buffalo split its last four games, opens a four-game road trip
The Buffalo Sabres (4-4-2) just wrapped up a four-game homestand with a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils. During that stretch, the Sabres beat the Devils 4-3 in a shootout while splitting a two-game series against the New York Rangers (3-2 win and 3-2 overtime loss).
Buffalo is tied-18th in the NHL in goals scored per game (2.88). Winger Victor Olofsson scored four goals along with six assists; center Jack Eichel added a couple of goals and nine assists, while winger Taylor Hall has one goal and eight dishes on his tally.
Linus Ullmark is the Sabres’ first-choice goalie, and the 27-year-old Swede has a 3-1-2 record with a 2.55 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Carter Hutton guarded the cage last time against the Devils, and he’s 1-3-0 on the season while posting a 3.05 GAA and a .895 save percentage.
New York desperately wants to break out of its slump
The New York Islanders (3-4-2) are on a five-game losing streak following a couple of overtime losses at the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2 and 4-3. All those five defeats came on the road, while the Islanders won both their home contests this term, outlasting Boston 1-0 and New Jersey 4-1.
New York scores only 2.11 goals per contest (27th in the NHL). Center Mathew Barzal netted four goals along with six assists, but New York needs more from centers Jean-Gabriel Pageau (G1, A3) and Brock Nelson (G2, A1), and winger Jordan Eberle (G3, A2).
Semyon Varlamov patrolled the crease six times and posted a 3-2-1 record with a 2.00 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Ilya Sorokin is 0-2-1 with a 3.65 GAA and a .870 save percentage, so I expect to see Varlamov between the pipes Tuesday.
- 5-12 in the last 17 games overall
- 2-7 in the last nine road contests
- 0-5 in the last five road games against the Islanders
- 8-4 in the last 12 home games
- 8-2 in the last ten tilts against Buffalo
A five-game losing streak is a long one for the NHL team, especially for the side considered as a legitimate playoff contender. Therefore, I expect the Islanders to bounce back and beat the Sabres on the home ice.
As I’ve mentioned above, Semyon Varlamov should get the starting nod, and he’s already racked up a couple of shutouts this season. The Islanders have to get things going offensively and should know how to do it against the Sabres, as New York has won eight of its last ten encounters with Buffalo including the previous three.
Pick: Take New York Islanders at -130
The Islanders and Sabres have combined for only ten power-play goals thus far. Both teams have struggled offensively, particularly the Islanders who heavily lean on their defensive game but gave up a whopping 16 goals over their last four outings. Therefore, I’m backing the under on the totals, expecting to see a cautious approach on both sides.
The under has hit in four of the last five meetings between the Sabres and Islanders, as just one of those five games produced more than five goals in total.
Pick: Go under 5.5 goals at -130