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Devils and Islanders meet again

The Devils and Islanders will face each other for the third time in a week, as New York hosts New Jersey in tonight's contest at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders posted a 1-0 home win over New Jersey last Saturday before getting clobbered 5-1 in Thursday's meeting at the Prudential Center in Newark. This will be the Islanders' third straight game against the Devils, but New Jersey also faced the New York Rangers in between the two meetings.

The Devils and Isles have split four encounters this season, but New Jersey has claimed six of eight overall in the series. Each team has three victories in the last six contests staged at the Coliseum.

Two days after posting a 4-1 win on Tuesday against the visiting Rangers, the Devils routed the Islanders. Ilya Kovalchuk netted his second hat trick of the season to help Jersey Devils post the 5-1 victory at the Rock.

"The guys were doing great setting me up tonight," said Kovalchuk. "They're the ones who deserve all of the credit, but it sure is nice to be scoring goals again and winning games."

Patrik Elias also posted a goal and an assist while Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots for the Devils, who have won three of four and are sitting sixth in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey is just two points in back of fifth-seeded Philadelphia and just one point in front of Ottawa.

After tonight's test, the Devils, who are 20-12-2 on the road this year, will face Philadelphia in a home-and-home series.

The Islanders are seven points out of a playoff spot in the East and the club will need to pick up the pace if it wants to avoid a fifth straight year out of the postseason.

Andrew MacDonald scored the lone goal for the Islanders in Thursday's loss to the Devils. It was the fourth setback in six games for New York, which saw Evgeni Nabokov get beat for all five goals on 20 shots in the loss.

"We moved the puck and kept it simple, but the wheels fell off in the third," said MacDonald. "It's tough to see something like that this time of the year.

Forward Michael Grabner missed Thursday's contest with flu-like symptoms and is questionable for tonight.

The Islanders have won two straight and three of their last four home games, but are still just 15-14-5 at the Coliseum this season.