Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#35 Pittsburgh Penguins vs.
#36 New Jersey Devils
Friday, April 9, 2021 at 7:05pm EDT
Prudential Center, Newark
Written by Chris Kubala

This article covers a past game!

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It’s a battle of East Division teams on the ice in the Garden State as a pair of teams look to pick up a victory. The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the road as they travel to face the New Jersey Devils Friday night. Pittsburgh closed a two-game set on the road against the Rangers Thursday night. The Penguins were clobbered 8-4 in the first game of the set on the road Tuesday night. New Jersey was on the road in Buffalo to close a two-game home-and home set on Thursday night hoping for a split after losing 5-3 Tuesday night on home ice. The teams have split four previous meetings this season with the Devils earning a 2-1 overtime win on the road in the most recent matchup on March 21.

Pittsburgh Penguins Hoping to Improve Playoff Position

Pittsburgh was on the road in the Big Apple to face the Rangers in the second game of a two-game set Thursday night hoping to bounce back after getting smacked their last time out. The Penguins entered Thursday third in the East Division, four points behind the top spot currently held by the Islanders and Capitals. They are nine points ahead of fifth-place Philadelphia and the Rangers to remain on the right side of the playoff cut line. Pittsburgh is tied for 7th in scoring as they average 3.26 goals per game on the season. The Penguins are average in their own end, ranking 14th in goals against by allowing 2.82 goals a night. Pittsburgh stands tied for 14th in the league in power play success as they convert 21.2% of their chances with the man advantage. The Penguins are 25th in penalty killing as they successfully navigate 76.3% of their shorthanded situations.

In Tuesday’s game, the Penguins fired a metric ton of rubber on goal but were let down by their goaltending and took a loss. Pittsburgh held an 18-11 edge in shots on goal in the opening period but trailed 4-1 on the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play. After giving up three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the stanza, Jared McCann scored his 10th of the year, on the power play, at 10:38 off assists from Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang to make it a 3-1 game. The Penguins gave up another goal in the period to trail by three after the opening period. In the second period, Pittsburgh held a 13-7 edge in shots with both teams scoring once, leaving them in a 5-2 hole after 40 minutes. After falling behind 5-1, Mike Matheson scored his fourth of the year at 12:36 off assists from Colton Sceviour and Mark Jankowski. In the third period, the Penguins held a 14-7 shot edge but were outscored 3-2 to put the game out of reach. The Penguins trailed 6-2 before Jake Guentzel scored his 17th of the year at 8:04 off assists from Matheson and Letang. Pittsburgh gave up two more goals before Brian Dumolin closed the scoring with his first of the year at 18:36 off assists from Jankowski and Radim Zohorna. Tristan Jarry stopped seven of 11 shots before getting the hook after the opening period. Casey DeSmith had 10 saves on 14 shots for the Penguins, who held a 45-25 edge in shots on goal, in the loss.

New Jersey Devils Looking to Retool

New Jersey came up on the short end at home against Buffalo Tuesday night and hoped that they could reverse their fortunes on the road Thursday night. The Devils entered Thursday night seventh in the East Division, 22 points behind the division-leading Islanders and Capitals while they stood 14 points back of the Bruins for the final playoff spot. New Jersey stands 26th in the league in goals per game as they average 2.46 goals per contest this season. The Devils are tied for 21st in goals against as they allow 3.08 goals a night on the year. New Jersey is 29th in the league in power play success as they convert 13% of their chances with the man advantage. The Devils stand 31st in penalty killing as they successfully get through only 72.6% of their shorthanded situations on the year.

In Tuesday’s game, the Devils struggled in their own end of the ice and it proved costly in the loss to the Sabres. The opening period saw New Jersey with a 7-5 shot advantage with both teams scoring twice to leave the game even after 20 minutes of play. Damon Severson opened the scoring with his third of the year at 4:22 off assists from Tyce Thompson and Mikhail Maitsev. After giving up two unanswered goals to trail 2-1, Jesper Bratt scored his fifth of the year, on the power play, at 19:59 off assists from Pavel Zacha and Travis Zajac to even the score. In the second period, New Jersey held a 13-9 edge in shots with each team scoring once to see the game tied at three after 40 minutes. Zacha gave New Jersey a 3-2 lead with his eighth of the year off assists from Miles Wood and Bratt at the 11:03 mark. Later in the period, they gave up the equalizer. In the final period, the Devils held a 10-4 shot advantage but were outscored 2-0 to take the loss. Scott Wedgewood made 13 saves for New Jersey, who held a 30-18 edge in shots, in the loss. Mackenzie Blackwood is expected to get the start in goal for this contest.

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Both teams are playing the second game of a back-to-back and their third game in four nights here so there’s no rest advantage. The Devils dealt Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri to the Islanders Wednesday for A.J. Greer, Mason Jobst, the Islanders 1st round pick in 2021 and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2022. That may help the future for New Jersey but it doesn’t help the present. Pittsburgh has battled through a slew of injury issues but they are still in the playoff picture through it all. The Penguins have the talent to hang with most teams and they are clearly better than the Devils. With New Jersey a miserable 4-13-2-1 on home ice this season, you have to give the Penguins the upper hand here.

Prediction: Pittsburgh Penguins -1.5 (+140)

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Pittsburgh has seen the over go 19-18-2 in their contests on the year. The Penguins see an average of 6.08 goals a game though that climbs up to 6.37 goals per game on the road. New Jersey has seen the under post a 20-17-0 mark in their games this season entering Thursday. The Devils have seen an average of 5.54 goals a night this season though that number craters to 5.25 goals when they are the home team this season. Their offensive production is much better on the road (2.94 goals per game) compared to 2.05 goals per game at home. In the four meetings this season, the teams have combined for seven, five, four and three goals. The under has hit in five of their last six meetings and this one follows suit. Look for the under to come in here.

Prediction: Under 6
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Written By Chris Kubala , "Chris Kubala"

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