Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#39 New York Islanders 5.5 vs.
#40 Pittsburgh Penguins -170
Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 7:38pm EDT
PPG PAINTS Arena, Pittsburgh
Written by Ricky Dimon

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#39 New York
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The Pittsburgh Penguins will be trying to stave off elimination when they host the New York Islanders for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Tuesday night. New York took the first two contests at home and then extended its lead by prevailing in Pittsburgh on Sunday. The Penguins have not lost in the opening round since 2014-15 and have not been swept at any point since 2012-13.

Big momentum

The Islanders are on a roll, having taken a commanding lead in this series by beating Pittsburgh 4-1 in Game 3 on Sunday. Jordan Eberle answered just 28 seconds after Wilson’s tally in the first period in Game 3 to become the first Islander to open the playoffs with three goals in as many games since Ray Ferraro (1993 versus Washington).

“It’s been the storyline for the last couple of games: they score and we come back,” Eberle noted. “Playoffs are all about momentum. When you can take some teams [momentum] away and continue to build yours, it’s key.”

Goalie Robin Lehner went into this series with 49 minutes of playoff action accumulated in a relief role with Ottawa in 2013, but the 27-year-old Swede has looked at ease against Pittsburgh by stopping 98 of 103 shots.

“We work for each other and care for each other and play as a group. I feel calm in the net right now,” Lehner commented.

Season on the brink

Pittsburgh star Sidney Crosby has generally tormented the Islanders throughout his decorated career, but the two-time Hart Trophy recipient has been held without a point on six shots while recording a minus-4 rating in this Eastern Conference first-round series. Crosby looks to help the Pittsburgh avoid a sweep when they host the Islanders in Game 4 on Tuesday.

“It’s not the position that you want to be in, but I would love to be a part of a team that comes back from that,” Crosby said following Sunday’s setback that put Pittsburgh in its first 3-0 hole since the 2013 Eastern Conference final against Boston.

The Penguins’ sixth-ranked offense has been limited to the first career postseason goals for defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Garrett Wilson over the last two games. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and defenseman Kris Letang are the lone remaining members of the last Pittsburgh team that trailed 3-0 in a series. Malkin has recorded a goal and two assists in the series to join defenseman Justin Schultz with a team-leading three points, while Letang assisted on a third-period goal in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss in Game 1.

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Islanders defenseman Mathew Barzal has four assists in this series after setting up three goals against Pittsburgh during the regular season. New York is 9-0 all-time when holding a 3-0 lead in best-of-7 series while Pittsburgh is 0-5 when facing same deficit. Granted all that matters, for now, is Game 4, but the Penguins just seem finished–sooner rather than later. They have held a lead for three minutes and 17 seconds in this entire series. The Islanders are 4-0 in their last four games against winning opponents, 5-0 in their last five conference quarterfinal contests, and 6-2 in the last eight meetings between the two teams. Pittsburgh is 1-4 in its last five quarterfinal contests.

Prediction: New York Islanders

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Like Crosby, Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel has been held without a point and owns a minus-3 rating in the series after erupting for a career-high 40 goals this season. The under is 44-18-2 in the Islanders’ last 64 overall, 20-6-2 in their last 28 on the road, and 4-0 in their last four playing on one day of rest. It is also 16-4-1 in the Penguins’ last 21 overall, 5-1-1 in their last seven at home, 13-4 in their last 17 against the Eastern Conference, and 15-5-1 in their last 21 against winning opponents. Additionally, the under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings between the two teams. Look for this one to stay under the total.

Prediction: Under

Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is a freelance sports writer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He has previously worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.