(7:00 p.m. ET, TV: FSN | Radio: Bloomberg 1130) Tonight at the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders look to close the gap on the Atlantic division-leading New Jersey Devils.
The Islanders are four points behind the Devils in the Atlantic division standing, but have played one less game. In the conference standing, the Islanders are currently tied for sixth with Boston and Ottawa.
Rick DiPietro and the Islanders have been outstanding this month at home on Saturdays, earning victories over Florida (5-4), Atlanta (6-0) and Columbus (4-0). In the three most recent games at home, the Islanders have been perfect, defeating, by the shutout, Atlanta, Columbus and the Rangers (2-0).
Tonight, the Islanders will try to become just the second team in the modern era to complete four shutouts in a row at home. The only team to accomplish the feat was Terry Sawchuk's Detroit Red Wings in 1955.
The Islanders and Devils have met only one other time this season, back on November 2. The Islanders dominated New Jersey at the Continental Airlines Arena, defeating them by the score of 5-2. Jason Blake contributed a goal and two assists, while Alexei Yashin was the set-up man all night, assisting on three goals. That was a rare loss for the Devils at the Continental Airlines arena, where they sport a record of 13-3-2.
The Devils have always been tough defensively, especially with Martin Brodeur in goal, but they also have two dangerous offensive lines. The top line of Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez and Patrik Elias isn't as productive as last year, but they're getting some help.
North Dakota alums Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, along with Jamie Langenbrunner have been one of the best second lines in the NHL. Parise is tied for second on the team in goals with 14 and points with 30. Langenbrunner also has 14 goals, while rookie, Zajac has posted 19 points in 35 games.
The Islanders and Devils face six more times before the season is over, including twice in January, on the 4th (in New Jersey) and on the 13th (on Long Island).
Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130 while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on FSN NY.
BELOW ARE CHANNEL LISTINGS FOR FSN NY ON LONG ISLAND
FSN NY: 72
FSN NY: 624
FSN NY: 413
FSN NY: 725
RICK'S OVERALL SHUTOUT STREAK ENDS AT 156:30
Rick DiPietro set a new career high with a shutout streak that last 156:30. It started after he gave up a goal to Scott Walker 1:42 into the third period in Carolina on December 22 and ended when Mike Fischer scored 18:12 into the first period at Ottawa on December 27. In between, DiPietro shutout the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 23 and the New York Rangers on December 26, both games at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes is held by Chico Resch. In 1975-76, Resch went 178:29 without yielding a goal. His streak started on December 4 at Pittsburgh and ended on December 12 at Atlanta. In between, he shutout Buffalo and Minnesota on December 9. Thanks to Bob Waterman of the Elias Sports Bureau for assistance on that note.
RICK, ISLES STOP THE PUCK AT HOME
Rick DiPietro and the Islanders are on a torrid shutout streak at home as opponents have been held completely in check in the last three games at Nassau Coliseum. DiPietro has not allowed a goal in the last 185:43 at home, a streak that spans four games. DiPietro has shutout the Atlanta Thrashers (December 16), the Columbus Blue Jackets (December 23) and the New York Rangers (December 26). The last goal DiPietro and the Islanders have yielded occurred on December 9 versus Florida when Ruslan Salei scored with 43 seconds remaining in the third period of that contest. DiPietro then shutout the Panthers in overtime and his next home three opponents.
The only other time the Islanders recorded three consecutive shutouts at home occurred in 1993-94 when Ron Hextall blanked Ottawa (February 19), Washington (February 21) and Philadelphia (February 25). Hextall's home shutout streak of 249:39 began on February 15, 1994 versus Tampa Bay and ended on February 27 versus Quebec.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only team to shut out its opponent in modern NHL history (since 1943-44, when the center-ice red line was introduced), in four consecutive home games was the Detroit Red Wings in January 1955. Terry Sawchuk was in goal for all four games, wins over Chicago (1-0, Jan. 8), Boston (4-0, Jan. 13), New York (3-0, Jan. 16) and Toronto (4-0, Jan. 23).
SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT
Saturday night's are alright for the Islanders so far this season. The team has a record of 10-2-0 on Saturday night's with the only losses occurring on October 7th at San Jose and November 4th versus Atlanta.
WHEN LEADING AFTER TWO
The Islanders have the third best record in the NHL when leading after the period with a mark of 18-0-1. When leading after the first period, the team is 12-0-1.
AT THE COLISEUM
The Islanders are coming off three consecutive home shutout victories at Nassau Coliseum. On Saturday, December 16, the Islanders shutout the Atlanta Thrashers 6-0 and then defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Saturday, December 23. Most recently, the Islanders shutout the New York Rangers 2-0 on Tuesday, December 26. Rick DiPietro had all three shutouts in net. The Islanders next game is on January 2, 2007 versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
Islanders - 41 points, 2nd place, Atlantic Division
New Jersey - 45 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.
Islanders Jason Blake, 21 goals and 38 points; Alexei Yashin, 22 assists; Brendan Witt, 72 PIM
New Jersey Brian Gionta, 15 goals; Patrik Elias and Brian Rafalski, 22 assists; Elias, 36 points; Cam Janssen, 31 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 16.7 percent. Penalty killing: 80.0 percent
New Jersey - Power play: 19.4 percent. Penalty killing: 87.9 percent.
Islanders Rick DiPietro (16-11-1, 2.66 GAA, .917 SV%); Mike Dunham (3-3-2, 2.83, .916)
New Jersey Martin Brodeur (21-12-2, 2.17, .922); Scott Clemmensen (0-1-1, 3.60, .878).
2006-07 SEASON SERIES:
Islanders 11-6-2 at home
New Jersey 8-10-1 on the road.
1 Mike Dunham
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
8 Bruno Gervais
14 Chris Campoli
24 Radek Martinek
32 Brendan Witt
44 Freddy Meyer
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
12 Chris Simon
17 Shawn Bates
18 Mike Sillinger
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin
81 Miroslav Satan
30 Martin Brodeur
40 Scott Clemmensen
2 David Hale
5 Colin White
7 Paul Martin
8 Alex Brooks
21 Brad Lukowich
28 Brian Rafalski
29 Johnny Oduya
9 Zach Parise
10 Erik Rasmussen
11 John Madden
12 Jim Dowd
14 Brian Gionta
15 Jamie Langenbrunner
17 Michael Rupp
18 Sergei Brylin
19 Travis Zajac
20 Jay Pandolfo
23 Scott Gomez
25 Cam Janssen
26 Patrik Elias