Preview: Islanders at Devils
The Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders look to rebound from their first regulation loss in almost a month when they go for a four-game season sweep of the host New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. The Islanders lost for the third time in four games (1-1-2) on Tuesday, seeing a go-ahead goal overturned by an offside call early in the third period before giving up the final two tallies of a 3-1 setback at Boston.
“That’s life, we’ve got to battle through it and get back on track there,” New York defenseman Devon Toews told reporters of the video review. “. … We battled, but we had a few mistakes cost us (Tuesday). And we had chances, but they didn’t go in.” The Islanders, who had gone eight games without a regulation loss (6-0-2) since Jan. 12, have outscored the division-rival Devils 11-4 in three wins this season - including a 4-3 overtime victory at New Jersey on Nov. 23. The last-place Devils lost for the fifth time in seven contests Tuesday, allowing the final four goals in a 5-1 setback against Los Angeles - three of them in an 80-second stretch early in the third period. “It seems like we put together a good game here and there,” New Jersey captain Andy Greene told reporters. “It’s not like we’re not working hard because they’re mental mistakes. It just seems when that happens we’re getting busted for it. We compound one mistake into two or three.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG Plus, MSG
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (30-16-6): Right wing Jordan Eberle scored the only goal for New York on Tuesday and captain Anders Lee (team-high 18 goals) saw his point drought increase to six contests. All-Star center Mathew Barzal scored twice in his last four games and leads the team with 47 points while forward Josh Bailey is second with 38 - just one of them coming in the past four contests. Goalie Robin Lehner (16-8-4, league-best 2.02 goals-against average, .932 save percentage), who has not given up more than two goals in seven straight games, is likely to get the start Thursday.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (20-25-7): New Jersey began what could be a busy month of selling when it dealt veteran center Brian Boyle (13 goals, 47 games) to Nashville for a 2019 second-round draft choice Wednesday. Reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall (37 points, 33 games) remains out with a lower-body injury, but is still second on the team in scoring behind All-Star right wing Kyle Palmieri (23 goals, 40 points), and Nico Hischier (16, 36) is third after scoring three times in the last three games. Center Pavel Zacha has scored twice in the past four contests after a 10-game drought.
1. The Devils are 5-of-17 on the power play in the last four games and sit fourth in the league in penalty killing (83.8 percent).
2. New York LW Andrew Ladd (lower body) and D Thomas Hickey (upper body) have both been practicing and could return to the lineup soon.
3. New Jersey G Cory Schneider (0-5-1) is expected to get his first NHL start in almost two months in one of the next few games.
PREDICTION: Islanders 4, Devils 2