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Devils' centers Zajac, Henrique out against Islanders

by John Kreiser

DEVILS (15-10-4) at ISLANDERS (17-8-5)


NEW YORK -- The New Jersey Devils will be without their top two centers for a second straight game when they visit the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Sunday, but will have top-line right wing Lee Stempniak in the lineup.

Neither Travis Zajac (upper body) nor Adam Henrique (lower body) played Friday in a 3-2 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings at Prudential Center, and neither will dress against the Islanders. Coach John Hynes had hoped Henrique, who was injured Tuesday in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Toronto Maple Leafs, would be able to play against the Islanders, but he didn't practice Saturday and is day-to-day.

But Hynes said Sunday that Stempniak, who missed practice Saturday because of illness, will be able to play. Stempniak is second on the Devils with 23 points.

Goalie Cory Schneider will make his fifth consecutive start for New Jersey. He played in each of the Devils' first two games against the Islanders, a 3-2 shootout win in Newark on Oct. 31 and a 2-1 loss in Brooklyn three days later.

At 15-10-4, the Devils are fourth in the Metropolitan Division and have exceeded expectations through the first two months of the season.

"It's a pretty consistent, competitive level we've been able to play with for 60 minutes," Hynes said. "When we do that it gives us the best chance to play how we need to play. When we've been able to do that over the course of a game, we've found more ways to win than when we're not playing with that kind of intensity."

Goalie Thomas Greiss will start for the Islanders after Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves in a 3-2 overtime win at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Kyle Okposo's second goal of the game at 2:18 of OT extended the Islanders' point streak to nine games (7-0-2). Each of New York's past five games has gone beyond regulation; the Islanders have won three in shootouts and one in overtime, losing the other in a shootout.

Forward Steve Bernier will return to the lineup after Ryan Strome left the game Saturday with an upper-body injury. Cal Clutterbuck will return to his role as right wing on the fourth line after missing the game in Columbus with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, a healthy scratch Saturday in the first half of a back-to-back, will return.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano is glad to be able to give players an extra day or two off to recover from injuries.

"We're fortunate right now that we have some good depth," he said. "We have guys who participate [and] practice really hard, that want to be in [the lineup]. Healthy competition is good, and it's a luxury we have right now. When a guy is not 100 percent, we don't want to use him and put him in jeopardy to further injure himself."

Neither team held a morning skate.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mike Cammalleri - Jacob Josefson - Lee Stempniak

Jiri Tlusty - Joseph Blandisi - Kyle Palmieri

Patrik Elias - Sergey Kalinin - Tyler Kennedy

Stefan Matteau - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

Eric Gelinas - David Schlemko

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Travis Zajac (upper body), Tuomo Ruutu (right foot fracture), Adam Henrique (lower body), Bobby Farnham (upper body)

Scratched: Brian O'Neill, Jon Merrill


Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Anders Lee

Nikolai Kulemin - Mikhail GrabovskiSteve Bernier

Matt Martin - Casey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Nick LeddyTravis Hamonic

Thomas HickeyMarek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

Injured: Ryan Strome (upper body)

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Brian Strait

Status report: Farnham practiced Saturday, one day after being placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Zajac will miss his fifth straight game after being injured against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 3. … Capuano said Strome is day-to-day; he didn't play in the third period at Columbus after being driven into the boards by Blue Jackets defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk early in the second. Eric Boulton, who took Clutterbuck's place in Columbus, and Brian Strait, who played in place of Zidlicky, are healthy scratches.

Who's hot: Palmieri has six goals in his past seven games. His 13 goals are one short of his career high, accomplished with the Anaheim Ducks in each of the past two seasons. … Nielsen has three goals in his past two games and is tied with Tavares for the Islanders lead with 12.

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