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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 31st (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (3-2-1) at New Jersey Devils (3-0-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders end their five-game road trip looking for a rare victory in New Jersey on Thursday evening as they try and deal the Devils their first regulation loss of the season.
The Islanders have posted a solid 2-1-1 mark so far on their swing, which began after they split a pair of home games in regulation to begin the campaign. New York opened the season with a 2-1 loss to visiting New Jersey.
The Isles, though, are coming off just their second victory in the past 15 trips to Pittsburgh, notching a 4-1 win over the Penguins on Tuesday. Evgeni Nabokov made 37 saves in a near shutout and Casey Cizikas scored his first career goal.
Matt Moulson, who had an assist, and John Tavares scored power-play goals less than two minutes apart in a three-goal second period, which also saw Michael Grabner light the lamp.
"In the last few games, we've really developed an understanding of what we need to do to be successful," Tavares said of the team's power play, which converted both of its opportunities.
New York forward Colin McDonald will begin serving a two-game suspension on Thursday for boarding Pittsburgh's Ben Lovejoy, an incident that occurred in the second period.
The Islanders have scored 17 goals on their swing and hope to cap the trek with another offensive outburst. That could lead to the club notching just its fourth victory in its last 15 trips to New Jersey.
The Devils, though, have yet to lose in regulation, winning their first three contests of the season before back-to-back losses past regulation. New Jersey dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.
In his first start of the season, Johan Hedberg made 27 saves, but was beaten twice in the six-round shootout. David Clarkson scored New Jersey's regulation tally, a power-play marker in the second period.
"The points are important, but I'm more pleased with how we played tonight. Our game in Montreal was a little inconsistent," said Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, referring to Sunday's overtime loss at the Canadiens. "I thought tonight we were real solid for 65 minutes in all areas of the ice against a really good team."
DeBoer is likely to go back to starter Martin Brodeur, who made 18 saves in the 2-1 win over the Islanders on Jan. 19. Clarkson had the go-ahead goal in the victory, which was New Jersey's fourth straight and ninth in the last 11 meetings with New York.
New Jersey forward Adam Henrique will likely make his season-debut Thursday after recovering from thumb surgery.
Henrique, a finalist last spring for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, was playing for Albany of the American Hockey League during the lockout and suffered a left thumb injury during a late November game. The surgical procedure repaired a damaged ulnar collateral ligament.
In 74 games for the Devils last season, Henrique posted 16 goals and 51 points. He added five goals and 13 points in 24 playoff games to help New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Finals.
01/31 11:32:31 ET