NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, April 1st (All times Eastern)
New York Islanders (16-16-3) at New Jersey Devils (15-11-9), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils have been scraping by lately with one-point results in each of their last three games.
The New York Islanders will try to stop the Devils from gaining a point on Monday, as the Atlantic Division rivals fight for playoff positioning at New Jersey's Prudential Center.
The Devils have lost three straight outings but have managed to record a point in five consecutive games, going 2-0-3 over that stretch.
New Jersey currently sits seventh in the East's playoff standings and is four points ahead of the Islanders and New York Rangers, who are tied for the conference's eighth and final playoff berth. The Rangers also are in action Monday, as they host the Winnipeg Jets.
While the Devils are staying afloat with their recent point streak, the Islanders had won a season-high three straight games before getting dealt a 2-0 setback Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Islanders fired 35 shots on net but Tomas Vokoun stopped every one to help lead the mighty Penguins to their 15th consecutive victory.
Evgeni Nabokov came up with 25 saves for the Islanders, who went 0-for-4 on the power play in Saturday's loss.
"That hurt us big time today," Islanders center John Tavares said of the power play. "We had a lot of shots on net, but we didn't have too many great scoring chances. When you get your chances, you've got to find a way to score."
Despite the regulation loss, the Islanders still own a solid 10-5-1 record as the guest this season. New York is capping a three-game road trip tonight and will host the Jets on Tuesday.
Islanders forward Josh Bailey left Saturday's game after falling awkwardly into the end boards and is questionable for Monday. Bailey was pushed from behind by Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz, who was handed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit.
The Devils, meanwhile, have lost three straight games without sniper Ilya Kovalchuk in the lineup. Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury in a home game against Florida on March 23 and New Jersey followed with an 0-0-3 road trip that ended with Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Panthers.
After losing a pair of shootout losses without Kovalchuk, who is expected to be sidelined for 2-to-4 weeks, the Devils were done in by Dmitry Kulikov's game-winner 1:43 into overtime on Saturday.
In the extra session, Kulikov had the puck poke-checked away from him by Martin Brodeur on a short break, but the puck came over to the left circle. From there, Brian Campbell fired it over to the right and Kulikov sent the disc into the far side for the win.
Steve Bernier scored both goals for the Devils and Brodeur made 27 saves in the loss.
"You know we keep getting points and that's a positive thing," said Brodeur. "The teams around us have been struggling a little so it's been a little easier to take. But at the same time we're going to have to start winning hockey games."
Saturday's loss dropped the Devils to 5-6-7 on the road this season, but the club will try to bounce back at Prudential, where New Jersey has built a solid 10-5-2 mark in 2013.
Monday's contest is the fifth and final scheduled meeting between the Devils and Isles this season. The clubs split the first four encounters of 2013, but New Jersey has claimed five of seven overall.
New Jersey has won four of the last six meetings in the Garden State.
04/01 10:48:50 ET