Below we will cover the top NHL betting picks and advice for Saturday, May 22nd.
The Florida Panthers put us on a heck of an emotional rollercoaster Thursday night. I felt great after the Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 lead and looked like the more urgent team I anticipated.
Then, the second period. Tampa Bay scored five goals in the second stanza, and my confidence dissolved almost immediately.
But that’s why playoff hockey is amazing. The games are never really over. The Panthers fought back to force overtime, then stayed alive in the series on this overtime game-winning goal.
RYAN LOMBERG WINS IT IN OT FOR YOUR FLORIDA PANTHERS pic.twitter.com/eg0gg4UrOV
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) May 21, 2021
Let’s hope today’s top NHL bet contains a little less drama. I know, that’s a lot to ask for during this intense first round.
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Top NHL Betting Picks for Saturday, May 22nd
New York Islanders -110 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
One of the best parts of this year’s first-round has been seeing the raucous environments that have felt even more special after we spent the last year watching games with no fans in the stands. The Game 3 environment at the Nassau Coliseum was maniacal. Unfortunately, that energy wasn’t enough to push the beloved Isles past the Pens Thursday night.
Goaltending was what did New York in. Semyon Varlamov just wasn’t sharp in Game 3, allowing five goals on only 27 shots. It’ll be interesting to see if coach Barry Trotz turns to rookie Ilya Sorokin in Game 4.
The Islanders were the better team despite the unfortunate result. New York had a 57.5% expected goals rate, outshot Pittsburgh 49-44, and generated more high-danger scoring chances. The Islanders also picked up the physicality with 47 hits to Pittsburgh’s 29. That level of physicality is something Pittsburgh has struggled against in the past.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s netminder Tristan Jarry has been shaky throughout this series and has allowed nine goals on 109 shots on net in the series.
All of this suggests that the Islanders should’ve won Game 3, if not for an abysmal performance from Varlamov. Whether Trotz sticks with his starter or makes a move, I suspect the Isles will get a better effort in the crease. Like my bet on Florida Thursday night, I’m betting on the more desperate team that’s been just as good as their counterpart throughout the series, if not better.
I’m taking the Isles to even the series in front of their home crowd.
The Pick: New York Islanders (-110)
Other Leans for Saturday’s NHL Slate
The price on Montreal at +165 still seems like incredible value as one of the top NHL betting picks, especially when considering the Toronto Maple Leafs lost their captain, John Tavares, to an ugly concussion in Game 1. The Leafs will have to reshuffle lines on the fly, which is never good in the postseason.
The Minnesota Wild have outperformed expectations all season and could surprise us again Saturday night. The public may hammer the favored Vegas Golden Knights, figuring their 5-2 road triumph in Game 3 was a turning point in the series. That could present a strong buying opportunity, as Minnesota could’ve gone up 3-0 in that game if not for an overturned goal.
I’d like a little more value than +110, but I’d expect Minnesota to come out with a much stronger effort at home like the Islanders. Plus, the Wild could be in store for some better luck, as they’ve gone 0-for-5 on the power play in the series. A better conversion would go a long way.
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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.
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