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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Tuesday, March 27th (All times eastern)

New Jersey Devils (44-23-8) at New York Islanders (36-27-12), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Area rivals will hold a high-stakes turf war this evening at New York's Nassau Coliseum, where the playoff-hopeful Islanders host the New Jersey Devils in a crucial Atlantic Division showdown.

Both teams enter this matchup with a lot on the line. New Jersey currently shares first place in the Atlantic Division with the hard-charging Pittsburgh Penguins, while New York is simply fighting for its playoff lives. The Islanders are deadlocked with Carolina and Montreal for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with just seven regular-season games remaining.

New York has been playing fairly well as of late, as the club is 2-0-1 over its last three games and has earned a point in four straight contests. The Islanders missed out on a chance to move in front of the Hurricanes and Canadiens, however, when they came out on the short end of a 2-1 overtime decision to the hated New York Rangers Sunday at the Coliseum.

With the Isles' Sean Hill serving a hooking minor late in the extra session, Michael Nylander slipped a shot past Rick DiPietro with just 49 seconds left to give the Rangers the win.

DiPietro stopped 32-of-34 shots on the afternoon, but failed in his bid to establish a franchise record for victories in a season. The former No. 1 overall pick shares the club mark of 32 wins with Billy Smith (1981-82) and Chris Osgood (2001-02).

Alexei Yashin had the lone tally for the Isles, who fell to 20-11-6 at home for the season.

New Jersey came through with an important win Saturday at Florida, with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac each netting goals in the shootout to help the Devils edge the Panthers by a 4-3 count.

Jim Dowd scored twice in regulation for New Jersey, which halted a three-game losing streak, while Martin Brodeur made 26 saves to record his 43th victory of the season. The total matches a career best for the future Hall of Famer, who also reached that number in 1997-98, 1999-00 and again last season.

The Devils will be playing the fourth test of a five-game road trip tonight and is 22-13-3 away from home for the year. New Jersey ends the trek with a key encounter with the Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.

New Jersey should get a boost to the lineup in the expected return of forward Patrik Elias. The Czech standout, who leads the club with 65 points, has missed five consecutive games with a groin injury.

The Devils have won five straight over the Islanders after New York earned a 5-2 triumph at the Meadowlands in the initial meeting between the teams this season. New Jersey has also prevailed in four of its last six visits to Nassau Coliseum, including all three trips in 2006-07.

03/27 10:53:48 ET

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