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Islanders return home to host Devils

by John Kreiser

DEVILS (3-1-3) at ISLANDERS (4-2-1)


Season series: These Atlantic Division rivals are playing each other for the third time in the first 16 days of the season. The road team has won both games -- New Jersey beat the Islanders 2-1 at the Nassau Coliseum on opening night and the Islanders returned the favor with a 5-4 overtime win in Newark on Thursday.

Big story: Both teams have nine points, but they're been on different tracks during the past week. New Jersey won its first three games but has dropped four in a row, though Saturday's 5-1 loss at Pittsburgh was the Devils' first regulation loss. The Islanders have had two days off after ending a five-game road trip with their 5-4 OT win at New Jersey on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Devils: Some line-shuffling by coach Peter DeBoer on Saturday didn't produce the desired results. He moved Adam Henrique from left wing back to center on a line with Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk and shifted Patrik Elias from center to left wing on a line with Travis Zajac and David Clarkson. Despite the moves, the Devils managed only 16 shots and one goal in Pittsburgh. New Jersey trailed 2-1 after two periods before the Penguins blew it open with three goals.

"It was a 2-1 game at the end of two periods," said DeBoer, whose team is trying to avoid its first five-game losing streak since December 2010. "We came out in the third and had a couple good shifts and a couple opportunities to tie it, but it got away from us."

Martin Brodeur, whose 50 wins against the Islanders are the most he's had against any team, allowed five goals for the second straight game. With the Devils playing back-to-back, Johan Hedberg could get the start on Long Island.

Islanders: New York's special teams have been very special so far, and they're a big reason the Islanders are off to a fast start despite playing five of their first seven games on the road. The power play went 3-for-4 against New Jersey on Thursday, including Brad Boyes' overtime winner, and leads the NHL at 37.5 percent. The penalty-killers were perfect in five chances against New Jersey and have allowed just one power-play goal in 25 shorthanded situations.

"A big part of what we do has been special teams, on both sides," Boyes said. "We're getting key plays at key times."

The five goals by the Islanders in Thursday's game matched their total in their five previous meetings with the Devils.

Who's hot: Hedberg had goals-against average of 0.67 in three appearances against the Islanders last season. … New York center John Tavares had two goals and an assist on Thursday and has four goals and seven points in his last three games.

Injury report: Defenseman Mark Fayne has missed the Devils' last two games with an arm injury. … The Islanders are still without forwards Josh Bailey (knee) and Jesse Joensuu (groin), though Bailey is skating again and could return this week. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has yet to report to the Islanders but told a Slovak sports site that he plans to fly to Long Island this week.

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