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At the Rink: Devils at Islanders

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils will play their final game at Nassau Coliseum on Monday against the New York Islanders.

That means Long Island native Keith Kinkaid has one last chance to play at the arena where he watched games growing up. His wish is about to be granted.

Kinkaid, who was raised about 30 minutes east of the Coliseum in Farmingville, N.Y., will start in goal for the Devils, who are playing their sixth game in 10 days. The Islanders are moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.

"My whole life I was going to Islander games," said Kinkaid, whose father is a former season-ticket holder. "It's fun to actually be able to play [at Nassau Coliseum].

"It's always been my dream to play on that ice and play on any NHL ice. It's a dream come true to play on the ice I grew up watching all the time. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. This place can get loud. I'm very excited."

Kinkaid, 25, is 0-1-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in four games this season.

"He's just got to keep doing his thing," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of Kinkaid. "When he gets the opportunity to play, like we tell all our young players, make it so we have to play you again. He did that after the first time he [started last Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks], and he's going to have another start tonight."

Devils center Travis Zajac will return to the lineup for the first time since Nov. 28 because of a lower-body injury and the mumps. Zajac, who has four goals and four assists in 23 games, will center New Jersey's top line, between Scott Gomez and Jaromir Jagr.

New Jersey will be without forward Mike Cammalleri, who sustained a lower-body injury during a 4-3 loss at the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Cammalleri traveled with the Devils to New York but has been sent back to New Jersey. The Devils recalled forward Tim Sestito from Albany of the American Hockey League.

The Islanders enter the game as one of four teams with 20 wins this season. Their penalty kill, however, is ranked 30th in the NHL at 71.6 percent. But it's a statistic the Islanders are confident will improve.

Center Casey Cizikas, whom the Islanders rely on heavily when shorthanded, will return to the lineup after missing the past three games because of an upper-body injury.

New York allowed three power-play goals in eight shorthanded situations while Cizikas was out, which he believes was more the result of bad bounces than systems. The Islanders also are missing two of their top defensemen, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic, who have upper-body injuries.

"I watched the games on that road trip [at the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues] and the last one against Chicago [on Saturday], a couple of those [penalty kill] goals-against, they were tough ones," Cizikas said Monday. "The one in Minnesota, it goes off three guys and in; you can't really do anything about that. We did a good job of eliminating their chances and keeping shots from the outside. Somehow those pucks had seeing eyes. We've just got to keep doing what we're doing and when the puck's on our stick, we've got to get it down [the ice]."

Here are the projected lineups:


Scott Gomez - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Tuomo Ruutu - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Tim Sestito - Jacob Josefson - Jordin Tootoo

Martin Havlat - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy Greene - Damon Severson

Seth Helgeson - Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Peter Harrold

Injured: Mike Cammalleri (lower body), Ryane Clowe (head), Patrik Elias (groin), Adam Larsson (mumps), Bryce Salvador (lower body), Dainius Zubrus (leg)


Nikolay Kulemin - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Calvin de Haan

Lubomir Visnovsky - Thomas Hickey

Matt Donovan - Griffin Reinhart

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Brian Strait, Eric Boulton

Injured: Johnny Boychuk (upper body), Travis Hamonic (upper body), Michael Grabner (lower body), Matt Carkner (back)

Status update: Zubrus is with the Devils but did not participate in the morning skate. He was cut on his left leg during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes last Monday. … Sestito, 30, has six goals and seven assists in 26 AHL games this season. … Forward Mike Sislo was assigned to Albany of the AHL after Zajac was activated from injured reserve. ... Strait will miss his second straight game because of personal reasons. … Boychuk and Hamonic skated Monday morning but will not play. … Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Grabner is day-to-day.

Who's hot: Gomez has a goal and three assists in his past four games. His goal Saturday at the Dallas Stars was his first with New Jersey since March 28, 2007. … Tavares has a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists). … Okposo has goals in back-to-back games and five points in his past four (two goals, three assists). … Leddy has five assists in his past five games.


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