With a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs secured, the New Jersey Devils will try to keep rolling when they host the lowly New York Islanders tonight at Prudential Center.
The Devils have won three straight games and their most recent victory -- Saturday's 5-0 rout of Carolina -- assured New Jersey of a return to the postseason after missing out on the playoffs last year for the first time since 1996.
New Jersey is currently seeded sixth in the East and it seems likely that the club will stay in that spot. The Devils are five points behind Philadelphia for the fifth seed and four points in front of seventh-seeded Ottawa. All three teams have three games left in the regular season and the Flyers and Senators are also in action tonight.
Ilya Kovalchuk powered New Jersey's road rout of the Hurricanes, as he led an offensive attack with a goal and two assists. Petr Sykora added a goal and an assist for the Devils, while Martin Brodeur made 22 saves for his third shutout of the season and 119th of his career.
David Clarkson, Ryan Carter and Zach Parise also lit the lamp for New Jersey in the postseason-clinching victory.
"Not a lot of emotions, just happy for our group," Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said. "We took a step today to where we want to get to."
The Devils will play two of their final three games of the regular season at home, where they are 22-13-4 this year. New Jersey will visit Detroit in Thursday before closing the season against Ottawa on Saturday.
The Islanders will miss out on the playoffs for a fifth straight year this spring and New York looked like a team with nothing to play for over the weekend. The Isles had a three-game winning streak snapped with Saturday's 6-3 loss to Boston and New York capped a three-game homestand with Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Senators.
New York was tied at 1-1 with the Senators after one period, but Ottawa scored four unanswered goals to breeze to the victory. Mark Streit scored the lone goal for the Islanders, while Al Montoya was tagged for all five goals on 32 shots in defeat.
"It leaves a sour taste in your mouth," Isles center John Tavares said. "It makes it real difficult watching it. We have to stay together, play hard and with a lot of pride."
The Islanders are 17-17-5 as the guest this year and will play two of their three remaining games on the road. New York closes its home schedule with Thursday's game against Winnipeg before ending the season Saturday in Columbus.