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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Devils

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
For an antiquated building, Nassau Coliseum has been full of life as of late.


The Islanders have won eight of their last nine games at the Coliseum and have matched a club record for most wins (11) in their first 14 home games.

They look to continue their hot play at home, when they host the New Jersey Devils tonight at Nassau Coliseum at 7 p.m.

“It’s something that I personally take a lot of pride in,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said of his team’s home record. “[Improving] is one thing that I thought about all summer if we wanted to get back to the dance, the post season.”

The Islanders had just 13 home wins last season and haven’t had a winning record on home ice since the 2009-10 season. The team credits the home-ice turnaround to playing simple hockey and passionate fan support.

“We haven’t been good at home the last couple of years, but this year we are playing the right way,” Frans Nielsen said. “We are working hard, we don't try to do too much because we’re the home team. We just play simple. Shoot pucks and get pucks deep. Our game is pretty similar to the way we play on the road.”

Nielsen added that the atmosphere in the building is the best he’s seen – and heard – in the regular season since he’s been an Islander. It’s a sentiment repeated by his teammates.

“We feed off the crowd and they've been excellent,” Thomas Hickey said. “It just makes a big difference playing in front of a full building. In the past, the fans that came were great and loud and we appreciate that, but the more the merrier, it helps us out a lot. And the record shows.”

The Coliseum was sold out for five of the last seven games; the Islanders have won all but one of those sellouts. And yes, the players says they hear the new “Yes!” chants after goals.

“The energy in this building has been a big, big, factor in why we’ve had success here this year,” Capuano said. “Hopefully we can build off that and hopefully that’ll continue.”

The Islanders will put their home momentum up against a Devils team that’s 8-11-1 on the road this season. The Islanders beat the Devils 3-1 at the Coliseum on Nov. 29. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.

New York Islanders
20-10-0 (40 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
11-3-0 home
New Jersey Devils
11-15-5 (22 points - T-5th in Metropolitan Division, T-12th in Eastern Conference)
8-11-1 road
7:00  p.m.
Nassau Coliseum
Uniondale, NY

Television:
MSG+
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- The Breakdown: Cal Clutterbuck (Dec. 14)
- Islanders 3, Blackhawks 2 (Dec. 13)
- Clark Gillies Takes Morning Skate (Dec. 13)

What's Happening at the Coliseum:
- Lower Lobby Opens at 5 p.m.
- Doors Open at 5:45 p.m.
Islanders player to watch
Kyle Okposo - Forward

Kyle Okposo has goals in back-to-back games after going on a 16-game goal drought. Okposo scored the game-tying goal in Saturday’s 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and has points in six of his last eight games. The 26-year-old leads the Islanders with 20 assists and is tied with linemate John Tavares with 27 points for the overall team scoring lead.
Devils player to watch
Adam Henrique - Forward

Adam Henrique is tied atop the Devils scoring lead with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 24 games this season. Henrique recorded two assists in the Devils 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday, his fifth multi-point game of the season. The 24-year-old centers a line with veterans Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder. Henrique did not play in the team’s first meeting this season.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
86 Nikolay Kulemin
91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski51 Frans Nielsen12 Josh Bailey
40 Michael Grabner
29 Brock Nelson 27 Anders Lee
17 Matt Martin
18 Ryan Strome15 Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 44 Calvin de Haan
8 Griffin Reinhart
– 46 Matt Donovan
11 Lubomir Visnovsky – 14 Thomas Hickey

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
New Jersey Devils previous game lines
Forwards
23 Michael Cammalleri - 21 Scott Gomez - 68 Jaromir Jagr
9 Martin Havlat - 14 Adam Henrique - 17 Michael Ryder
15 Tuomo Ruutu - 16 Jacob Josefson - 32 Mike Sislo
20 Jordin Tootoo - 11 Stephen Gionta - 18 Steve Bernier

Defensemen
6 Andy Greene - 28 Damon Severson
7 Jon Merrill - 2 Marek Zidlicky
22 Eric Gelinas - 10 Peter Harrold

Goaltenders
35 Cory Schneider
1 Keith Kinkaid



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