NHL Playoffs Round 1: Free NHL Picks Today for Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

NHL Playoffs Round 1: Free NHL Picks Today for Saturday, May 22nd, 2021
Sat 22nd May 2021

The 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing! With 4 more epic games on the agenda today, we have spent the morning researching each fixture in depth to bring you the absolute best predictions. Have a read below for all our NHL picks.

Florida Panthers @ Tampa Bay Lightning (Game 4) – 12.30 PM EDT

After suffering back to back defeats on home soil, the Panthers got a huge boost on Thursday with a nail biting 6-5 overtime win over the Lightning in game 3.

The Panthers came out swinging, scoring the only 2 goals of the first period in the space of 3 minutes, but the Lightning replied with a dominant second term performance, scoring all 5 of their goals to the Panthers’ 1.

Now chasing a 2 goal lead, the Panthers had a lot of work to do in the final period, fortunately it took just over a minute for Patric Hornqvist to reduce the deficit with his power play goal.

With 5 minutes left to play the Panthers’ pressure was too much for the Lightning, with Gustav Forsling eventually finding the equalising goal to send the game to overtime, where the Panthers would subsequently win thanks to Ryan Lomberg with his only shot on goal.

4 players finished with both a goal and an assist for the Panthers, but Johnathan Huberdeau was the only player to notch 3 points, assisting in the opening 2 goals, as well as Hornqvist’s power play goal.

The aptly named, Brayden Point, was once again amongst the scoreboard for the Lightning, picking up a goal and an assist, while Vector Hedman put up another strong performance, bagging 3 assists.

After getting what should have been the hard part out of the way by winning the opening 2 away games, the Lightning need to make the most of their home fixture today. Nobody was expecting to see the Panthers be clean swept over this series, but back to back away wins against the reigning champions doesn’t seem likely.

NHL Pick – Tampa Bay Lightning (-142)
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Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders (Game 4) – 3.00 PM EDT

The Penguins vs Islanders series continued to treat us in game 3, with the 5-4 win for the Penguins marking the third straight game to be decided by just one goal. 

It was a big win away from home for the Penguins, which now lead the series 2-1, and with 9 goals scored it was the most exciting game so far.

Kris Letang opened the scoring with an unassisted effort early in the first term, and from that point the Penguins would never go behind, with the Islanders levelling the score on 3 occasions before Brandon Tanev scored what would be the game winning goal late in the third term.

Letang finished the game with 2 assists on top of his goal, also amongst the scorers was Jeff Carter with a brace, and Evgeni Malkin with 2 assists, instantly making an impact upon returning from injury.

The Islanders had a similar looking scoreboard, with Scott Mayfield racking up a goal and 2 assists, while Cal Clutterbuck was responsible for 2 goals, and Mathew Barzal for 2 assists.

A tight game was expected, but given how tight the Islanders have been defensively when playing at home the 9 goal scoreline was a surprise, expect another tight game today, hopefully with some better goaltending at either end. 

NHL Pick – Pittsburgh Penguins (-104)
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Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs (Game 2) – 7.00 PM EDT

The Canadiens went big in game 1, scoring a 2-1 upset win over the division champions, the Maple Leafs, securing that crucial away victory for their efforts.

Josh Andersson broke the deadlock 12 minutes into the opening term with a goal assisted by Eric Staal and Tyler Toffoli, the Habs held the lead until early in the second, when William Nylander buried the equalising goal.

It looked like the game would be going to overtime, with both sides taking lots of shots, but failing to beat Carey Price or Jack Campbell in net, however, with the Maple Leafs pushing with the man advantage Paul Byron managed to break away and score the game winning goal from a near prone position.

Carey Price put on a masterclass in net for the Canadiens, allowing just 1 goal from 35 attempts by the Maple Leafs, his goaltending made the difference in a very tight game.

It was a disappointing result for the Maple Leafs, made all the more worse by the nasty collision between John Tavares and Ben Chiarot which sent the Maple Leafs’ captain to hospital with a concussion.

Tavares is out of action indefinitely, a prospect that will dishearten Leafs’ fans, fortunately they have a wealth of quality players in their roster. Both Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews were kept scoreless in game 1, it is hard to imagine that they don’t step up to the challenge before heading to Montreal.

NHL Pick – Toronto Maple Leafs (-188)
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Vegas Golden Knights @ Minnesota Wild (Game 4) – 8.00 PM EDT

The Knights took the series lead against the Wild with their convincing 5-2 win in game 3, overcoming a 2 goal deficit to claim their second straight win against the Minnesota side.

Down 2-0 in the opening 10 minutes of the game, it wasn’t looking too good for the Knights, but they came out looking like a different beast in the second term, scoring 3 unanswered goals to claim the lead, and the final period was no different, with the Knights adding another 2 to their total for an emphatic away win.

Joel Erikkson Ek scored his second goal of the playoffs, his other coming in the Wild’s 1-0 win in game 1, and Kirill Kaprizov finally managed to pick up a point, assisting Ryan Hartman for a goal. 

William Karlsson and Reilly Smith both bagged a goal and assisted another for the Knights, while their trusty captain, Mark Stone, also picked up 2 points, scoring his first 2 goals of the playoffs.

Short of the first term, game 3 was the most dominant performance the Knights have put on this series, taking 40 shots for the game while keeping the Wild to a measly 16 attempts. With 1 more game in Minnesota to play, a win today for the Knights would see them playing for the series when they head back to Vegas in game 5. 

NHL Pick – Vegas Golden Knights (-134
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.

Connor is a passionate writer and sporting fanatic, with a focus on all things soccer, NBA, and NHL. Happy to chew your ear off about his beloved Tottenham Hotspur, or talk odds on the latest ball game. Connor always delivers the latest in breaking news, matchday analysis and predictions.