NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 28th (All times Eastern)
New Jersey Devils (15-16-8) at New York Islanders (11-20-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Islanders hope a recent four-day break doesn't halt their momentum as they try to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season in Saturday night's meeting with the New Jersey Devils.
The Islanders have won just three times over their last 17 games, but two of those victories have come in the past three contests. That includes a 3-0 victory in Detroit on Monday.
New York scored three first-period goals, more than enough for Evgeni Nabokov in his first shutout of the season and 56th of his career. The veteran netminder stopped 23 shots, while Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Casey Cizikas notched goals.
The Islanders scored three times on only seven shots during the opening period en route to their second straight road triumph that followed a 10-game skid as the visitor.
"We competed hard and the way we wanted to," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. "We got some timely goals, nice goals. We played pretty hard against a pretty good team."
Grabner has notched three goals over his last three games after going 31 straight without lighting the lamp, while Cizikas notched his first goal in 13 games.
The two will look to stay hot and lead the Isles to consecutive wins for the first time since Nov. 1-2. New York is also aiming to halt a seven-game slide at home (0-3-4).
However, captain John Tavares is day-to-day with a lower-body injury and did not skate on Friday. He leads the Isles with 39 points on 13 goals and 26 assists.
The Islanders have won three straight and four of their past five meetings with the Devils, including a season-opening 4-3 shootout in New Jersey on Oct. 4.
Nabokov made 26 saves to move to 6-8-0 with a 2.95 goals against average in his career versus the Devils.
New Jersey has won six of its past eight on Long Island and will play five of its next six at home following tonight's game. The Devils were home last night and dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Martin Brodeur made 29 saves and stopped the first two skaters he faced in the tiebreaker before getting bested by Cam Atkinson in the third round.
Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Patrik Elias all came up empty on their attempts as the Devils lost for the third time in four games (1-1-2).
New Jersey and Columbus are two of four teams tied for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 38 points.
"It's a big point," Brodeur said. "But especially when you play teams that are close to you, it's even more important to win games."
Adam Henrique lit the lamp in the third period for the Devils and Clowe made his return to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 13. He missed 32 games with a concussion and has just one assist in seven games this season.
Following Brodeur's tough-luck loss, Cory Schneider is expected to make his first career start versus the Islanders tonight. He is 4-8-5 with a 2.20 GAA and .910 save percentage in 17 starts this season, though he did allow five goals on 37 shots in his last start on Dec. 23 versus Chicago.
12/28 10:30:52 ET