NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 13th (All times eastern)
New Jersey Devils (40-23-3) at New York Islanders (26-32-9), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils will try to move into a first-place tie in the Atlantic Division this evening when they take on the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
The Devils picked up their second victory in a row last night with a 3-1 home triumph over the Penguins while also moving within two points of the Penguins for first place in the division. They can pull even with the idle club with a victory tonight.
Ilya Kovalchuk came into last night's game with three goals and five assists in 10 games with the Devils since coming over in a trade with Atlanta, but he assisted on his team's first two goals before lighting the lamp himself for the 35th time this season.
Patrik Elias and Andy Greene also scored for the Devils, who will try to win three in a row tonight for the first time since Jan. 2-9. Martin Brodeur turned aside 34 shots in the victory, New Jersey's fifth straight versus Pittsburgh this year.
"There's no explanation for that except that you need a little luck and I think we've had some luck at different times," said Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire of his club allowing a mere three goals in five games against the Pens. "When you do, you build up some confidence and guys play their best game."
New Jersey, which has lost eight of nine and 11 of its last 13 on the road, improved to 40-23-3 on the season and matched Montreal's NHL record of 13 consecutive 40-win seasons accomplished from 1971-1983.
While the Devils continue to challenge for the Atlantic Division lead, the Islanders have fallen 11 points back of the Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. After opening its post-Olympic schedule with a big win over Chicago, New York has gone 0-3-1 in its last four games.
The Islanders dropped three straight in regulation before earning a point in Thursday's 2-1 shootout setback to the Blues. Martin Biron made 35 saves, but allowed both skaters he faced in the deciding frame to score. Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson both had their attempts turned aside by St. Louis' Chris Mason.
"We're getting our chances late in the game and in overtime, with the power play," said Moulson, who scored his team-leading 24th goal of the season in regulation. "It's just a matter of bearing down and correcting those little things."
Moulson has three goals and six points over his last seven games and has scored twice in four meetings with the Devils this year. However, New Jersey has outscored New York 12-8 in winning three of the four matchups.
The Islanders, who have lost six of their last nine overall as the host, had won three straight at home versus the Devils, including a 4-0 victory on Jan. 18, before dropping a 4-2 test at Nassau Coliseum when the teams last met on Jan. 23.
Rick DiPietro made 20 saves in the shutout victory but is back on injured reserve due to swelling in his surgically repaired left knee. Biron is 0-2-0 with a 4.04 goals-against average in two starts versus New Jersey this year, while Dwayne Roloson has yet to face them in 2009-10. However, he is likely to start tonight and is 0-6-0 with a pair of ties and 2.97 GAA versus them lifetime.
Brodeur is 2-1-0 with a 2.63 GAA in three games this year versus the Islanders, and his 43 career wins versus the club is the most for the future Hall of Famer against any one club. However, the Devils might opt to rest the 37-year-old and instead give backup Yann Danis his first start since Feb. 2.
Danis went 10-17-3 with a 2.86 GAA in 31 games with the Islanders last year and is 1-0-0 with a 0.75 GAA in two games (1 start) against them this season.
03/13 10:36:31 ET