The New York Islanders will look to extend their series lead against the Washington Capitals on Friday in Game 2 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup.
After falling behind 2-0 in the opener on Wednesday, New York stormed back with a flurry of unanswered goals to win 4-2. Can the Isles continue that magnificent form, or will Alex Ovechkin and the Caps recover to square things up at one apiece?
Check out abe Insights' preview for more on this epic showdown, highlighted by noteworthy stats, wagers analysis and the best odds available upon publication for the major lines across all the big sportsbooks.
Date: Friday, August 14
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Islanders 48% Capitals 56%
Spread: NYI +1.5 (-240); WSH -1.5 (+220)
Moneyline: NYI +110; WSH -125
Alternate captain Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and will miss Game 2. Something else to watch is how Washington goalie Braden Holtby continues to play, as the Caps are counting on him to be a workhorse in lieu of stout backup Ilya Samsonov, who's out for the playoffs.
Semyon Varlamov will be between the pipes for New York, and he's been fabulous during the postseason. Starting all five prior contests, Varlamov has a 4-1 record with a 1.81 GAA, bolstering an already-elite Islanders defense.
95 vs. 64: These figures represent the total goals from the third period in the regular season, an area where Washington led the NHL. By scoring three goals in Game 1's final period, New York flipped the script on the Capitals.
100 vs. 71.4: Check out the disparity in postseason penalty killing percentage between these two clubs. Washington is a perfect 12-for-12, whereas the Isles have allowed six goals on 21 opponents' power plays.
266 vs. 185: Finally, the stats here are the minor penalty minutes for both clubs from the 2019-20 campaign. Washington had the NHL's highest total, while New York sported the second-lowest.
Even if New York's penalty kill has been underwhelming, its collective discipline should prevent the Caps from getting too many man advantages. T.J. Oshie scored two power play goals in Game 1 to help Washington jump out in front, so it's vital for the Islanders to maintain their season-long trend of avoiding the sin bin.
On the other hand, if the series opener serves as a forecast for how the rest of these duels will go, there may be a lot of trips to the penalty box. Game 1's opening 20 minutes alone featured a combined 10 penalties, including a fight where Tom Wilson gave it to Anders Lee after Lee's hit on Backstrom caused the latter to leave the ice for good.
Referees were getting a workout in the physical affair, constantly blowing their whistles and raising their arms to make calls. Bad blood was boiling. Once the tone-setting and hard hitting was out of the way early, though, the quality of hockey picked up, the Islanders were patient, and they persevered through an inauspicious start.
But it's worth monitoring how New York answers going forward. Washington isn't afraid to mix it up with any adversary, and its depth of talent on the offensive attack is considerably greater than that of the Isles. Between Ovechkin, Oshie, Wilson, Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Caps have serious scoring firepower.
Despite this, it was the Islanders who rose to the occasion on the scoring sheet the last time around. Holtby is coming off a career-worst 3.11 GAA in the regular season, so the gap between him and Varlamov is significant.
When these Metropolitan Division rivals split their regular-season series 2-2, the average goal total in the last three meetings was over 8.3, so Game 1 was an outlier in that context. With this in mind, expect wagers to trend on the Over side.
Riding a hot goalie like New York's Varlamov is never a bad idea, yet considering the Caps' championship pedigree, collective experience and greater public visibility, look for betting sentiment to push more action on the Capitals' moneyline and spread.
Note: Odds current as of 12:50 p.m. ET on Friday, August 14.
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