Devils, Isles set for Round 3
Sunday, 01.16.2011 / 5:33 PM
NHL.comDEVILS (12-29-3) at ISLANDERS (14-22-7)
: MSG Plus 2, MSG Plus.
: New Jersey 3-6-1; New York 5-4-1.
: This is the third of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Islanders won the first two rounds and outscored the Devils 7-1 in the process. They last faced each other on Dec. 23, when the Isles coasted to a 5-1 win at the Prudential Center.
: Are the Devils finally heating up?
In the midst of what's shaping up to be their worst season in decades, the Devils are 2-0-1 in their last three games. They're coming off a split in the Sunshine State as they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 5-2 score Friday night before suffering a 3-2 overtime loss at Florida on Saturday.
"Two good teams, and it's good to get three of four points," New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said.
: One of the few bright spots of New Jersey's season came last week when it was announced that Patrik Elias will play in his third All-Star Game. The veteran winger leads the Devils with 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists). Elias appeared in his first midseason classic back in 2000.
"It's been a very hard season result-wise," he said. "It's something nice that people still recognize the way we work or the way I work. It feels good. You go through rough times, and all you can do is your best."
: New York bounced back from a frustrating 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night by earning a 5-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Isles were paced by second-year pro John Tavares
, who recorded a natural hat trick in the victory. Tavares -- the No. 1 selection at the 2009 Entry Draft -- leads the Islanders with 18 goals and 33 points. Ten of those goals have come in the last 15 games, during which time New York has gone 9-4-2.
"It's a special game for him," interim coach Jack Capuano said. "You get three, and he had a chance at the end with the empty net to get four. He worked extremely hard tonight. He played very sound defensively (and) that led to a lot of chances offensively."
: Devils forward David Clarkson has four goals in his last five games. … Isles forward Blake Comeau
has five goals in his last six contests, while Matt Moulson
has eight points in his last eight games. He had three assists Saturday night.
: The Devils will be without Zach Parise (knee), Matt Taormina (ankle) and Bryce Salvador (concussion). … New York is missing Kyle Okposo
(shoulder), Mark Streit
(shoulder), Doug Weight
(back), Mark Eaton
(hip), Mike Mottau
(hip), Trent Hunter
(knee) and Frans Nielsen
: New Jersey has lost 12 of its last 13 road games. … Rick DiPietro
, who made 40 saves Saturday night, has won his last four starts. He's posted a 1.99 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage in the process.
: "He played awesome. When you give up that many shots, and Ricky stood on his head like he did, he gives us a chance to win every night. He's a big part of this team. Even in the locker room, he's one of the leaders. He's been around for a while. He's a guy that we like to see healthy and in the lineup." -- Isles forward Blake Comeau on Rick DiPietro