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Islanders without Tavares as they face Devils

by Brian Hunter

DEVILS (15-16-8) at ISLANDERS (11-20-7)


Last 10: New Jersey 4-4-2; New York 3-5-2

Season series: This is the second of five games between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders. Their previous matchup on Oct. 4 was the season opener for New York and the home opener for New Jersey. It ended up a 4-3 shootout win for the Islanders.

Big story: While the first half of the season has been a big disappointment for the Islanders in terms of wins and losses, captain John Tavares continues to deliver as better than a point-per-game player. However, Tavares will not be available to play Saturday due to a lower-body injury. The Islanders said Tavares is day-to-day.

"Anytime your captain is out, you have some concern, there's no question," coach Jack Capuano told Newsday.

Team Scope:

Devils: Shootout wins aren't as valuable as those coming in regulation or overtime when it comes to figuring tiebreakers at the end of the season. But in a tight race New Jersey may come to rue the points it's missed out on by going 0-6 this season in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.

Cory Schneider will start Saturday as the Devils look to bounce back in their second game in as many nights after Martin Brodeur made 29 saves to ensure they didn't come away completely empty in a 2-1 shootout loss Friday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"I think the first two periods we were just sluggish but Marty gave us an opportunity to win," said forward Adam Henrique, who scored the game-tying goal in the third period.

Islanders: In order for New York to escape the Metropolitan Division cellar and make a push at a second straight Stanley Cup Playoff berth, the Islanders will need to follow the blueprint from their most recent game, a 3-0 road win against the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

Of course Evgeni Nabokov won't be flawless every night, but unlike past games when the Islanders allowed multi-goal leads in the third period to slip away, they played calm and collected down the stretch and yielded all of six shots during the final 20 minutes.

"We've hung around in games against some good teams," Capuano told Newsday. "Even though we've lost some of those, we won a couple recently and that should give us some confidence going forward here."

Who's hot: Patrik Elias has two goals and nine assists in his past 11 games for the Devils. … Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen each have two goals and two assists during four-game point streaks for the Islanders. Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek have scored three goals in as many games.

Injury report: New Jersey defenseman Bryce Salvador (foot), who hasn't played since Oct. 22, was activated off injured reserve and expects to play. Fellow defensemen Adam Larsson (lower body) and Peter Harrold (foot) and forward Ryan Carter (lower body) are on IR. Forward Damien Brunner (knee) is also sidelined. … Tavares (lower body) is day-to-day for New York, which has defensemen Radek Martinek (back) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) on injured reserve.

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