NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 8th
(All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (28-29-9) at New Jersey Devils (37-24-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Devils and Islanders will start a home-and-home series
tonight in Newark, as New Jersey hosts New York in an Atlantic Division clash
at Prudential Center.
Thanks to some quirky scheduling by the NHL, the Islanders are actually in the
midst of a three-game stretch against the Devils. New York defeated Jersey by
a 1-0 score on Long Island this past Sunday and was idle leading up to this
home-and-home. Meanwhile, the Devils had their meetings with the Islanders
split up by Tuesday's home win over the New York Rangers.
The Isles have taken two straight from New Jersey since the Devils posted a
1-0 home win in the opener of the season series on Nov. 25. New Jersey has
still won five of seven overall in this series and eight of the last 10
encounters in the Garden State.
The Devils had lost five of six heading into Tuesday's game against the
Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leaders, but David Clarkson scored
the game-winner early in the third period to lift New Jersey to the 4-1
victory over the Rangers.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias had a goal and an assist each while Ryan
Carter also scored for the Devils, while Martin Brodeur stopped 25 shots in
"This was a big game for us because we weren't very sharp lately," said
Kovalchuk. "We need these points right now and wins against teams as good as
the Rangers are huge."
The Devils have won two of their last three and are currently seeded sixth in
the East. New Jersey is just one point ahead of Ottawa and only two behind
Philadelphia in the conference standings.
On the injury front for New Jersey, forward Alexei Ponikarovsky has missed the
last three games with a sprained right knee and is questionable for tonight.
Ponikarovsky has five goals and six assists in 17 games since coming to New
Jersey in a trade with Carolina. He has 12 goals and 14 assists in 66 total
games this season.
The Islanders' win over New Jersey on Sunday was the club's second straight
victory, and tonight New York will try for its first three-game win streak
since Jan. 17-21.
Anders Nilsson was in net for New York on Sunday and he posted the first
shutout of his career to help the Isles take the 1-0 victory. Playing in just
the third game of his career, Nilsson turned away all 24 shots he faced.
Kyle Okposo's second-period goal was the only score of the game.
"We played pretty well defensively, didn't give up too many second-chance
shots and cleared the rebounds out pretty well," said Okposo. "The ones we
didn't get to, he (Nilsson) made good stops on."
Regular starter Evgeni Nabokov could be back between the pipes tonight. He is
just 2-5-0 with a 3.39 goals-against average in his career against New Jersey.
Brodeur turned away 24-of-25 shots for the Devils to get saddled with Sunday's
hard-luck loss, but he is 48-27-2 with four ties and a 2.22 GAA in his career
against the Isles.
The Devils are 17-12-3 as the host this year and the Isles are 13-15-4 as the
guest. The clubs will complete the home-and-home series Saturday night on Long
03/08 10:39:21 ET