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Devils, Isles set for Round 3

by Brian Compton /
DEVILS (12-29-3) at ISLANDERS (14-22-7)

TV: MSG Plus 2, MSG Plus.

Last 10: New Jersey 3-6-1; New York 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the third of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Islanders won the first two rounds and outscored the Devils 7-1 in the process. They last faced each other on Dec. 23, when the Isles coasted to a 5-1 win at the Prudential Center.

Big Story: Are the Devils finally heating up?

In the midst of what's shaping up to be their worst season in decades, the Devils are 2-0-1 in their last three games. They're coming off a split in the Sunshine State as they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 5-2 score Friday night before suffering a 3-2 overtime loss at Florida on Saturday.

"Two good teams, and it's good to get three of four points," New Jersey coach Jacques Lemaire said.

Team Scope:

Devils: One of the few bright spots of New Jersey's season came last week when it was announced that Patrik Elias will play in his third All-Star Game. The veteran winger leads the Devils with 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists). Elias appeared in his first midseason classic back in 2000.

"It's been a very hard season result-wise," he said. "It's something nice that people still recognize the way we work or the way I work. It feels good. You go through rough times, and all you can do is your best."

Islanders: New York bounced back from a frustrating 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night by earning a 5-3 victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Isles were paced by second-year pro John Tavares, who recorded a natural hat trick in the victory. Tavares -- the No. 1 selection at the 2009 Entry Draft -- leads the Islanders with 18 goals and 33 points. Ten of those goals have come in the last 15 games, during which time New York has gone 9-4-2.

"It's a special game for him," interim coach Jack Capuano said. "You get three, and he had a chance at the end with the empty net to get four. He worked extremely hard tonight. He played very sound defensively (and) that led to a lot of chances offensively."

Who's Hot: Devils forward David Clarkson has four goals in his last five games. … Isles forward Blake Comeau has five goals in his last six contests, while Matt Moulson has eight points in his last eight games. He had three assists Saturday night.

Injury Report: The Devils will be without Zach Parise (knee), Matt Taormina (ankle) and Bryce Salvador (concussion). … New York is missing Kyle Okposo (shoulder), Mark Streit (shoulder), Doug Weight (back), Mark Eaton (hip), Mike Mottau (hip), Trent Hunter (knee) and Frans Nielsen (groin).

Stat Pack: New Jersey has lost 12 of its last 13 road games. … Rick DiPietro, who made 40 saves Saturday night, has won his last four starts. He's posted a 1.99 goals-against average and a .945 save percentage in the process.

Puck Drop: "He played awesome. When you give up that many shots, and Ricky stood on his head like he did, he gives us a chance to win every night. He's a big part of this team. Even in the locker room, he's one of the leaders. He's been around for a while. He's a guy that we like to see healthy and in the lineup." -- Isles forward Blake Comeau on Rick DiPietro
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