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Devils, Isles set to renew rivalry

by Brian Compton
DEVILS (11-8-1) at ISLANDERS (5-10-4)


Last 10: New Jersey 7-3-0; New York 2-6-2.

Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Devils went 4-2-0 against the Islanders in 2010-11.

Big Story: Despite the Islanders' recent struggles, general manager Garth Snow told Newsday this week that Jack Capuano isn't in danger of losing his position as the team's coach. New York has won only twice since Oct. 15 and blew a 3-1 lead Wednesday night in a 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

"That's something you'd have to ask him -- but not once has it come up. We haven't discussed it at all," Capuano told ESPN New York. "We talked this morning about our lineup. We've got some injuries on our blue line, some injuries in net. It's not perfect timing for all this. It just feels like things snowball when we're at that point of struggling."

Team Scope:

Devils: New Jersey won for the seventh time in its last 10 games Wednesday night as Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise scored in the shootout to help lift the Devils to a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Prudential Center. Martin Brodeur made 35 saves for New Jersey, which moved into a third-place tie with the Rangers in the Atlantic.

"There's definitely games we feel we should of won, but I think we're playing OK," Parise told after Wednesday's win. "I think we're getting better and we're starting to play a little more consistently from game to game. Now, it's throughout in the game where we need to improve."

Islanders: The woes continued for the Isles on Wednesday night. Despite the fact they were able to erase an early 1-0 deficit with three unanswered goals, New York received a subpar performance from Rick DiPietro and failed to hang on to a 2-goal lead. Danny Briere won it for the Flyers in overtime when he ripped a shot from between the circles past DiPietro as the Islanders suffered their third straight loss. Overall, they've dropped 13 of the last 16.

"We've got to build on what we did tonight," forward PA Parenteau said. "It's not the way we wanted the game to end obviously, but there are a lot of positives. The guys were committed, they were hitting hard, everyone was competing on the ice -- which was something that was an issue the past two games."

Who's Hot: Devils forward Patrik Elias picked up his 12th assist Wednesday night. He leads the club with 20 points. … Kovalchuk has 2 goals in four games since returning from a lower-body injury. … Isles winger Kyle Okposo scored his first 2 goals of the season and added an assist Wednesday.

Injury Report: New Jersey will be without Jacob Josefson (broken clavicle), Eric Boulton (hand) and Travis Zajac (ACL). … Isles defenseman Mark Eaton is out 6 weeks with a sprained left knee, while goalie Evgeni Nabokov is out indefinitely due to a groin injury.

Stat Pack: Devils center Dainius Zubrus became the 267th player to appear in 1,000 NHL games on Wednesday night. … New Jersey's penalty kill is 36-for-36 on home ice this season after killing off all six Columbus power plays Wednesday. … Isles forward Blake Comeau, who had 24 goals last season, has been held without a point in 15 appearances this season.

Puck Drop: "It becomes a mental game a lot of times. We've just got to stay focused and focus on the process. Hopefully we can build off this." -- Isles coach Jack Capuano after Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia
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