Martin Brodeur hasn't looked much this season like the future Hall of Famer he is. A matchup against the Atlantic Division rival New York Islanders usually helps him regain that form.
Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils continue their season-opening nine-game road trip Saturday night with their first meeting this season against the Islanders.
No team has had a more challenging early season schedule than the Devils (3-4-0), who are starting with nine straight road games while construction is completed on their new arena. They finish the trip Thursday against the New York Rangers before playing their home opener Oct. 27 versus Ottawa.
New Jersey hasn't been particularly good defensively in its first seven games, allowing 24 goals, including nine while short-handed.
Brodeur doesn't appear to be in peak form yet, going 2-4-0 with an ugly 3.51 goals-against average in six starts. He has allowed 13 goals in his last three games.
The Islanders, though, seem to bring out the best in the 15-year veteran.
Brodeur is 38-17-2 with four ties, a 2.17 GAA and 10 shutouts against the Islanders. The 38 wins are tied for his most against any opponent (Rangers) while the 10 shutouts are three more than he has versus any team.
The Devils were unable to build on back-to-back one-goal wins over Atlanta and Pittsburgh, falling 4-0 to red-hot Philadelphia on Thursday despite outshooting the Flyers 38-18.
Brodeur was outplayed by counterpart Martin Biron, giving up four goals on 18 shots.
"I'm not taking anything from the goalie whatsoever, I thought he played well for them," Devils rookie coach Brent Sutter said. "But at the same time, we didn't do enough around the net. And yet we played a pretty good hockey game all in all."
This game represents something of a homecoming for Sutter, who played for the Islanders from 1980-1991 and won two Stanley Cups with the club during its run of four in a row from 1980-83.
Also facing the Islanders (4-3-0) for the first time after a history with them is Devils right wing Arron Asham, who spent the last four seasons with New York before signing with New Jersey as a free agent on Aug. 7.
Captain Bill Guerin recorded his ninth career hat trick - his first three goals as an Islander - Thursday in a 5-2 victory at Washington.
Defenseman Chris Campoli had a career-high four assists for New York, which managed only five goals in its previous four games.
"Just getting the first one felt great," said Guerin, the team leader with nine points. "It was kind of getting the monkey off your back. It was good. I could sit back and be myself a little bit and stop pressing."
Rick DiPietro had another strong performance with 27 saves, improving to 4-2-0 with a 2.18 GAA this season. He has allowed two goals or fewer in five straight games.
DiPietro, though, is 0-4-1 in his last five starts against the Devils despite surrendering 11 goals in that span.
The Devils went 6-1-1 against the Islanders last season, outscoring them 9-3 in four wins at Nassau Coliseum. New Jersey has at least one point in seven consecutive visits to Long Island, going 5-0-2.