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Preview: Islanders at Devils

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (30-19-7) VS. NEW JERSEY DEVILS  (29-22-7)

7 P.M. PRUDENTIAL CENTER, MSG+2, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

FIVE THINGS:

1. PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS FOR ISLES-DEVILS

The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils are separated by two points in the Metropolitan Division standings, setting up one of the biggest matchups between the teams in years. 

How big? Frans Nielsen said it may be the biggest matchup since his Islanders beat the Devils in a shootout in the last game of the 2006-07 season. Why? Because those two points separate third from fifth place in the division. The Islanders are currently in the playoffs and the Devils are not. 

“In the six years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen the standings this tight,” Travis Hamonic said. “It shows how important these points really are.”

The Islanders picked up a key point in a 3-2 OT loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday  while the New Jersey Devils had their three-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday, falling 6-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers. 

2. SEASON SERIES: 

The Islanders are 2-0-1 against the Devils this season, leading the season series five points to two. With five-of-six points in the bank, a regulation win would give the Islanders a decisive win in the season series and separation in the standings, whereas a loss tightens an already tight race, even if the Islanders have two games in hand. The Islanders won the most recent meeting 4-0 at Barclays Center, but know they can’t take Friday’s game lightly against a desperate Devils team. 

“It’s a big game,” Nielsen said. “That place is going to be rocking tomorrow. They’ve been playing well. They are playing with a lot of confidence. They are a young team working hard. We have to be ready to bring it tomorrow because it’s going to be tough.”

3. TAVARES STREAKING:

John Tavares has caught fire for the Islanders, scoring points in seven straight games, racking up 11 points (5G, 6A) over that span. Tavares’ first-period goal against the Capitals was his team-leading 22nd goal of the season. The Islanders captain has hit the scoresheet in 12 of his last 14 games, scoring 16 points (7G, 9A) and has retaken the team lead with 47 points (22G, 25A). 

4. HALAK LIKELY IN GOAL:

Thomas Greiss started for the Islanders on Thursday night and given Capuano’s preference to alternate goalies in back-to-back situations, Jaroslav Halak is likely to start in goal on Friday. Halak is 13-12-4 this season with a 2.42 GAA and .914 SV%. Halak is 1-0-1 against New Jersey this season. 

5. SCHNEIDER STARTS, CAMMALLERI OUT:

All-star goalie Cory Schneider will start for the Devils on Friday night. A workhorse, Schneider has played 48 of the Devils 58 games, going 25-17-6. Schneider has some of the best stats in the NHL, including a 2.04 GAA (2nd in the league), .928 SV% (5th) and four shutouts (4th). Before getting roughed up by the Flyers on Tuesday, Schneider went seven straight games allowing two goals or fewer. 

Mike Cammalleri (hand/wrist) will miss Friday’s game. The Devils’ second-leading scorer (38 points in 42 games) has been sidelined since Jan. 26, missing eight games. The Devils are 4-2-2 without Cammalleri. 

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