Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#29 Buffalo Sabres vs.
#30 N.Y. Islanders Islanders
Saturday, December 14, 2019 at 1:05pm EST
Barclays Center , Brooklyn
Written by Chris Kubala

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#29 Buffalo
#30 New York
14-17
20-9
33-49
52-38
44-35-3
30-55-5
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It’s a battle of teams currently in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference on the ice in the Big Apple. The Buffalo Sabres are on the road as they make the trip within the state as they face the New York Islanders Saturday afternoon. Buffalo comes in off a 4-3 home victory over Nashville in their last contest Thursday night. New York earned a 3-1 victory on the road over Florida Thursday night in their last contest. The Islanders have won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams, including a 1-0 road win in the first matchup this season on November 2.

Buffalo Sabres Look for Fourth Straight Win

Buffalo battled and ended up earning a third straight victory as they took down Nashville at home in their previous contest. The Sabres entered Friday holding the final guaranteed playoff spot in the Atlantic Division and stood 10 points back of the Bruins for the top spot. Buffalo is 13th in the league in goals for as they average 3.15 goals per game so far this season. The Sabres are tied for 16th in the league in goals against as they allow three goals per contest this year. Buffalo’s power play has been below average this season as the team is 20th in the league by cashing in 17.3 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Sabres are 29th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 74.5 percent of their shorthanded situations thus far.

In their last game, the Sabres had their struggles early but managed to come back and get the victory. The first period saw Buffalo hold a 15-12 margin in shots on goal but they trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes of play. After giving up a goal in the opening minute, Jimmy Vesey tied the game for the Sabres with his fourth of the year at 14:33 off an assist from Rasmus Ristolainen. Buffalo gave up the go-ahead goal later in the period. The second period saw Buffalo outshot by a 12-9 margin but they held a 2-1 edge on the scoreboard to tie the game after 40 minutes. Jack Eichel scored his 21st of the year at 4:55 off assists from Sam Reinhart and Colin Miller. Eichel added his second of the game and his 22nd of the year at 14:21 off assists from Henri Jokiharju and Rasmus Dahlin to give the Sabres a 3-2 lead. Buffalo gave up the equalizer in the late stages of the period. In the final period, Buffalo was outshot 15-8 but scored the only goal to earn the victory. Victor Olofsson scored his 13th of the year at 8:29 off assists from Brandon Montour and Reinhart to earn the victory. Linus Ullmark made 36 saves for the Sabres in the win. Buffalo was outshot 39-32 in the contest.

New York Islanders Try to Defend Home Ice

New York swept the Florida teams on the road as they took down the Panthers with a stellar defensive showing in their last game. The Islanders entered Friday second in the Metropolitan Division, seven points behind the Capitals. New York is 18th in the league in goals for as they average 2.90 goals per contest this season. The Islanders are 2nd in goals against by allowing 2.33 goals per game this year. New York is 11th on the power play as they convert 20.8 percent of their chances with the man advantage. The Islanders are 11th in the league in penalty killing as they have successfully handled 82.9 percent of their shorthanded situations this season.

In their last game, the Islanders closed down on the Panthers and held Florida in check to earn the victory. New York held a 9-8 edge in shots in the opening period but the game was scoreless after 20 minutes of play. The second period saw the shots even at 12 with the Islanders outscoring Florida 2-1 to take that margin to the dressing room after 40 minutes of play. Devon Toews scored his third of the year at the 49 second mark, on the power play, off assists from Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee to open the scoring. Mathew Barzal made it a 2-0 game with his 13th of the year, on the power play, at 4:40 off assists from Eberle and Josh Bailey. The Panthers tallied later in the period to cut the lead in the half. In the third period, New York was outshot 13-9 in the stanza but scored the lone goal of the period to salt the game away. Lee hit the empty net for his ninth of the year, unassisted, at 19:57 to seal the win. Thomas Greiss made 32 saves in the contest for the Islanders, who were outshot 33-29 in the game.

Best Bets for this Game

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Buffalo has some momentum with three straight wins and Eichel has a 15-game point streak coming into this contest, which is the longest current streak in the league. The Sabres are fighting to stay in the playoff picture in a crowded Eastern Conference race. New York has been tough all season long and they are very good in their end of the ice this season. The Islanders have owned the Sabres recently and they earned a shutout win in Buffalo in the first meeting this season. Give the edge to the hosts as New York comes up with the victory in this contest.

Prediction: New York Islanders -175

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We've seen these teams have their ups and downs on the offensive end of the ice this season. Defensively, Buffalo has rode a similar roller coaster while the Islanders have remained extremely difficult to put up big offensive performances against on the year. The combination of Barry Trotz's system and the goaltending duo of Semyon Varlamov and Greiss has paid dividends. Ullmark has been solid of late for the Sabres but Carter Hutton has to get back on track. Can the Sabres avenge last month's home shutout defeat here on the road?

The under is 8-2 in the Islanders' last 10 games. After seeing New York stifle Tampa Bay and Florida, holding each team to a goal, earlier this week on the road, you have to like their chances of keeping the Sabres in check. This one falls under the mark as Trotz's group squeezes Eichel and company for the full 60 minutes.

Prediction: Under 5.5

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Buffalo has held the lead after one period on the road this season just five times in 16 games. The Sabres have been tied in six contests and trailed in five after 20 minutes of play. New York has led after 20 minutes in five of their 15 home games with seven other games tied at the first intermission. That means the Islanders have trailed just three times after the opening period at home this season. That's enough to give the edge to the Islanders in the contest.

Prediction: 1st Period New York Islanders

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Buffalo comes into this contest holding a -3 goal differential (17-14) after one period on the road this season. The Sabres have a +9 shot differential (185-176) in the opening 20 minutes of games on the year when it comes to being the visiting team. That's 31 first period goals in their road games, or an average of 1.93 goals per game. New York owns a +3 goal differential (13-10) despite being outshot by 12 (140-128) in the first period at home this year. The Islanders's 23 goals in the opening period gives an average of 1.53 goals per game at home in the first period this season. This one falls under the mark after 20 minutes.

Prediction: 1st Period Under
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Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.