New York Islanders (39-29-12) at New Jersey Devils (28-38-14)
6 p.m. Prudential Center
Radio: AM970 - The Answer, 88.7FM - WRHU, 103.9FM - LI News
UPDATE: Nikolay Kulemin in for Connor Jones, Jaroslav Halak will start in goal.
The Islanders four-game winning streak has them in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when they face off against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. The Isles (90 points) are three points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs (93 points) for the second Wild Card with two games to play.
The odds are still stacked against the Islanders, who need to win their final two games and have the Maple Leafs lose theirs to qualify, but there is a path, which is a remarkable feat considering the team was last in the Eastern Conference in mid-January.
"As we're getting closer, it becomes a little more realistic, but you're still counting on other teams to lose hockey games," Andrew Ladd told reporters on Thursday. "We dug this hole ourselves and we can't blame anybody but ourselves if we don't get in."
The Islanders do not control their own destiny, but are focusing on each game individually, a strategy that's kept them alive till the very end. They're coming in off a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
Nikolay Kulemin Returns:
Nikolay Kulemin returns to the Islanders lineup on Saturday, rejoining the team after missing seven games with an upper-body injury. He will replace Connor Jones, who had played in three straight games for the Islanders.
Kulemin last played on Mar. 24 against the Penguins and is coming back at a critical juncture for the team. The Islanders need to win their final two games of the season to have a chance of qualifying for the playoffs, as they'd need Toronto to lose their last two games. With Kulemin returning, the Islanders get a veteran presence in the lineup, as well as one of their top penalty-killing forwards.
Kulemin has 12 goals and 10 assists this season.
Video: Lee, Beauvillier power Islanders past Devils, 2-1
Isles vs. Devils:
The Islanders and Devils wrap up their season series on Saturday night. The Islanders lead the series 2-1-0, winning both games in Brooklyn, losing 3-2 in Newark on Feb. 18.
The Islanders are 11-1-1 in their last 13 games against the Devils, including a 7-1-1 in their last nine visits to Prudential Center.
The Devils enter Saturday's game with a 2-6-2 record in their last 10 games, most recently falling 7-4 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
As tough as this recent stretch has been for the Devils, Saturday night will be an emotional one in New Jersey, as Patrik Elias takes warmups with the Devils. The Devils franchise leader in points (1,025), goals (408) and assists (617) announced his retirement last week.
DEVILS PROJECTED LINES
|LEFT WING ||CENTER ||RIGHT WING |
|ADAM HENRIQUE ||TRAVIS ZAJAC ||KYLE PALMIERI |
|TAYLOR HALL ||PAVEL ZACHA ||MIKE CAMMALLERI |
|BEAU BENNETT ||JACOB JOSEFSON ||STEFAN NOESON |
|MILES WOOD ||BLAKE COLEMAN ||BEN THOMSON |
|LEFT ||RIGHT |
|ANDY GREENE ||BEN LOVEJOY |
|JOHN MOORE ||DAMON SEVERSON |
|JON MERRILL ||MICHAEL KAPLA |