Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#157 Columbus Blue Jackets vs.
#158 Florida Panthers
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 7:05pm EDT
BB&T Center, Sunrise
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of East Division teams take the ice in the Steel City in search of a victory. The New Jersey Devils are on the road as they travel to face the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night in the opening game of a three-game series. New Jersey was swept in a four-game, two-city set with the Rangers as they were dropped 5-3 at home Sunday afternoon in their most recent contest. Pittsburgh ended up with a split of their two-game weekend set on the road with the Sabres as they were beaten 4-2 on Sunday afternoon. In the season series, the Penguins hold a 3-1-1 series advantage, including a 5-2 road victory in the most recent meeting on April 11.

New Jersey Devils Looking to Turn Things Around

New Jersey dropped their sixth straight and their 10th in the last 11 games as they were beaten by the Rangers Sunday afternoon at home. The Devils entered Monday night seventh in the East Division, 28 points behind the division-leading Capitals while they stood 22 points back of the Bruins for the final playoff spot. New Jersey stands 27th in the league in goals per game as they average 2.48 goals per contest this season. The Devils are 27th in goals against as they allow 3.32 goals a night on the year. New Jersey is 29th in the league in power-play success as they convert 12.9% of their chances with the man advantage. The Devils stand 31st in penalty killing as they successfully get through only 70.2% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In Sunday’s game, the Devils at least managed to light the lamp, something they failed to do in the first two games of the set, but still ended up on the short end of the scoreboard. The opening period saw New Jersey with a 12-6 shot advantage but they trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. In the second period, the Devils were outshot 13-9 with both teams scoring once to leave them down 3-1 after 40 minutes. After falling behind 3-0, Mikhail Maitsev got New Jersey on the board with his fifth of the year at 18:55 off assists from Yegor Sharangovich and P.K. Subban to make it a 3-1 game. The third period saw the Devils with a 9-6 edge in shots with both teams scoring twice, sending the hosts to defeat. Marian Studenic got New Jersey within a goal with his first of the season off assists from Andreas Johnsson and Maitsev at the 1:03 mark. Nico Hischier tied the game with his third of the season at 5:30 off assists from Nolan Foote and Nicholas Merkley. The Devils gave up the go-ahead goal with three minutes remaining and an insurance marker with an empty-net marker in the final minute to take the loss. Mackenzie Blackwood made 21 saves for the Devils, who held a 30-25 edge in shots on goal, in the defeat. He is projected to get the start in goal for this contest for New Jersey.

Pittsburgh Penguins Try to Extend Edge in Season Series

Pittsburgh dropped their second game in the last three as they fell in the back half of their two-game set with the Sabres on the road Sunday afternoon. The Penguins entered Monday third in the East Division, three points behind the top spot currently held by the Capitals. They are seven points ahead of the fifth-place Rangers to remain on the right side of the playoff cut line. Pittsburgh is 6th in scoring as they average 3.31 goals per game on the season. The Penguins are average in their own end, ranking 14th in goals against by allowing 2.78 goals a night. Pittsburgh stands 9th in the league in power-play success as they convert 22.5% of their chances with the man advantage. The Penguins are 25th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 76.7% of their shorthanded situations.

In Sunday’s game, the Penguins couldn’t maintain the momentum from their win Saturday as they ended up losing to Buffalo on the road. The opening period saw Pittsburgh with a 12-9 edge in shots on goal but they went to the dressing room trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes of action. The second period saw the Penguins with a 13-9 advantage in shots on goal but again were outscored 1-0 to trail 2-0 after two periods of play. In the final period, Pittsburgh saw the shots even at 11 with each team scoring twice, leaving them on the wrong end of the scoreboard. After falling behind 3-0, Jason Zucker scored his seventh of the season at 10:18 off assists from Jeff Carter and Jared McCann to make it a 3-1 game. Pittsburgh surrendered an empty-net goal to trail 4-1 before Teddy Blueger bagged his fifth of the season at 19:36 off assists from Evan Rodrigues and Cody Ceci to make the final score closer. Casey DeSmith made 25 saves for the Penguins, who held a 36-29 advantage in shots on goal, in the loss. Tristan Jarry is expected to get the start in goal for this contest.

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Pittsburgh is still in the thick of a crowded East Division playoff race as they trail the Capitals by three points for the top spot entering Monday. The Penguins were only one point behind the second-place Islanders but stood only three points in front of fourth-place Boston. Pittsburgh has to take advantage of teams that they are better than, which is clearly the case here. The Penguins have taken seven of a possible 10 points from the Devils this season and New Jersey has fallen apart, going 1-8-2 in their last 11 games. With that said, itโ€™s tough to have much faith in New Jersey at this point in time. Give the advantage to the Penguins in this contest.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5 (-110)

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New Jersey has seen the under post a 22-22-0 mark in their games this season entering Thursday. The Devils have seen an average of 5.80 goals a night this season though that number climbs to 6.10 goals when they are the home team this season. Their offensive production is much better on the road (2.95 goals per game) compared to 2.04 goals per game at home. Pittsburgh has seen the over go 23-20-2 in their contests on the year. The Penguins see an average of 6.09 goals a game though that drops down to 5.62 goals per game on home ice. In the five meetings this season, the teams have combined for five, four, three, 10 and seven goals. The potential for big offensive numbers is on the table here: look for this one to end up over the mark.

Prediction: Over 6

Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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