The New York Islanders will collide with the Washington Capitals in an East division showdown on Thursday. The Capitals are eager to return to the ice after a rough loss against the Bruins last time out. The Islanders enter this one on a winning note after clobbering the Rangers 6-1 on Tuesday night. The Capitals lead the season series 3-2.
Capitals Batlte for First Place in East
The Washington Capitals continue a four-game road trip in this important matchup. The Caps and the Islanders have 62 points each atop the East. Washington has now lost two out of their last three games overall including a 6-3 defeat by the Bruins in their previous action on Sunday.
Alex Ovechkin has netted three goals in his last four games. The veteran star is having another productive season, collecting 24 goals and 42 points. Ovie has a goal and two assists against the Islanders this season. Niklas Backstrom continues to thrive and has seven points in his last five games overall. The 13-year veteran center has been a huge threat against the Islanders this season, accumulating six points in the five meetings. T.J. Oshie is playing some of his best hockey of the season right now and has two goals against the Isles. Zdeno Chara is questionable for this one.
SNIPED! pic.twitter.com/aMQxjbqmr8— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 18, 2021
The Capitals are platooning Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov between the pipes. Vanecek has the better numbers, although it’s by a narrow margin. The young goalie features a 2.77 GAA and a .908 save %, while Samsonov owns a 2.84 GAA and a .898 save %. Washington is scoring an average of 3.5 goals per game, good for second. They are conceding an average of three goals, landing them 20th overall.
Islanders Clobber Rangers, Seek Third Straight Win
The New York Islanders are targeting a third consecutive victory. They recently lost two straight and have replied with victories against the Flyers, and followed with a 6-1 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night to climb into the first-place tie in the East. The Islanders are the best home team in the NHL, losing just four times on home ice all season.
Isles’ point leader Mathew Barzal has been kept in check recently. The 23-year old star has played a big factor against the Capitals this season, registering eight points in the five meetings. Barzal has 38 points on the season.
The Islanders are one of the best defensive teams and Nick Leddy is a big reason why. The 29-year old defenseman plays over 20 minutes per game and can contribute offensively as seen in his point total of 27. Brock Nelson thwarted a three-point pointless drought with his 16th goal of the season in Tuesday’s win and is up to 25 points on the year. Isles’ captain Anders Lee is out for the remainder of the year.
The Islanders have outstanding goaltending. Varlamov got the nod in Tuesday’s victory and features a stellar 2.20 GAA and a .923 save%. Sorokin enters with a 2.02 GAA. New York stands 19th overall with an average of 2.7 goals per game. They are limiting opponents to an average of 2.3 goals, landing them third.
The Washington Capitals are:
- 1-4 in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record.
- 1-4 in their last 5 games when their opponent allows two or fewer goals in their previous game.
The New York Islanders are:
- 5-0 in their last 5 games playing on one day of rest.
- 8-2 in their last 10 games when their opponent allows 5 or more goals in their previous game.
- 19-7 in their last 26 games overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This is a thrilling matchup in a showdown for first place in the East. The Capitals won the first three games of the season series and the Islanders have replied with consecutive wins against their rivals, outscoring them by a large 9-4 margin in those two victories. The Islanders are the best home team in the NHL where they feature an incredible 19-2-2 record.
Furthermore, the Capitals have dropped two out of their last three clashes overall including a defeat to the last-place Buffalo Sabres. They are stumbling in the defensive end, surrendering a combined 14 goals in those three games.
Full-Game Total Pick
This game should feature playoff-type intensity and I expect a lower scoring game as a result. These foes played in a very low scoring 1-0 decision in the previous meeting. The Islanders continue to play outstanding defense and benefit from stellar goaltending. The under is 5-1 in the Islanders’ last six home clashes.
In addition, New York is definitely not a high-scoring team as they focus on the defensive aspect and that has especially been true against the Caps, netting three or fewer goals in four of the five clashes this season. The under is 5-2-1 in the last seven meetings between these rivals.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The under on the Capitals team total is worth a look. The Caps haven’t been able to solve the Islanders as the season series has progressed, collecting a total of only seven goals in the last three meetings. Also, the Islanders have only allowed a combined four goals in their last three games overall.
Half-Time Prop Prediction
I believe this will be a low-scoring 2-1 or 3-2 type game and am sticking with the under on the first period total as a result. The Caps’ best defensive period occurs in the first with only 37 goals allowed. The Islanders have only conceded 31 goals in the opening frame.