The Islanders and Devils meet for fourth time this season, as the Tri-State rivals hook up at Nassau Coliseum. The Devils won the previous two meetings on Long Island, a trend the Islanders are looking to end.
The Islanders are one of the NHL’s hottest road teams – 13-4-2 in their last 19 – and are looking to transfer that momentum onto home ice. The Devils are playing for their playoff lives, while the Islanders rookies are playing for jobs next season.
Age is a defining characteristic of the two clubs. The Devils are led by 42-year-old scoring leader Jaromir Jagr, 37-year-old Patrik Elias and 41-year-old goaltender Martin Brodeur. On the other end of the age spectrum is the Islanders, who have 10 rookies in their lineup tonight. Tonight will be a match of youthful energy against veteran experience.
Ahead of tonight’s game, both teams held optional skates at Nassau Coliseum. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.
Nilsson Starts: Anders Nilsson is coming off a 24-save performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Despite the win, Nilsson – and head coach Jack Capuano – are looking for a stronger game from the Swedish netminder tonight.
Capuano: He knows he has to play better, which is a good sign for us. He wants to compete and he’s looking for a bounce-back game.
Young Guns: With Nilsson in goal, the Islanders will ice 10 rookies tonight: Kevin Czuczman, Matt Donovan, Mike Halmo, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom.
Capuano on the Sound Tigers Experience: I’ve always said it’s a tremendous league, not only for our players in Bridgeport, but around the league... It’s a league where you learn the pro life, whether it’s the amount of games you play – sometimes there are three in three nights – the travel, or the demand of the schedule. For some of the young guys, they play against men down there. There are a lot of veterans in that league, but that’s where you learn to play the game.
The Shootout: In the spirit of Thursday's 13-rounder, Capuano was asked how he decides who shoots in the later rounds with the game on the line.
Capuano on the 13-Round Shootout: You're a little surprised at who the other team sends [in the later rounds]. You practice it and you see guy's tendencies and who does what; also depending on what hand the goalie is. At that point we got deep into it and we gave guys an opportunity.
Cal Clutterbuck vs. Evgeni Nabokov:
Nabokov made the save.