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Isles try to end 14-game slide by beating Devils

by John Kreiser

DEVILS (7-13-2) at ISLANDERS (4-12-5)


Last 10 -- New Jersey 4-5-1; New York 0-7-3

Season series -- The Atlantic Division rivals are meeting for the first time this season. The Devils won four of the six games between the teams last season, but both losses came at the Nassau Coliseum, where New Jersey has dropped four of its last five.

Big story -- One team appears to be getting back on track, the other still can't find a way to win. New Jersey brings its first two-game winning streak of the season to Long Island after a 2-1 shootout victory against Calgary on Wednesday that followed a 5-0 whipping of Washington on Monday. The Islanders saw their losing streak reach 14 games on Wednesday when they fell 4-3 in overtime at home to Columbus. They are 0-11-3 since a 3-2 OT win at Tampa Bay on Oct. 21.

Team Scope:

New Jersey -- The Devils looked like their old-time, defense-first selves against the Flames. They didn't generate a lot of offense, but allowed the Flames only three power plays and gave goaltender Johan Hedberg lots of help while denying Calgary time and space for most of the game.

It wasn't exciting, but it did produce a win for a team that hasn't had many of them so far.

"Sometimes you have to stay with it, you have to stay with the plan," coach John MacLean said. "Some shifts you go out there and maybe nothing will happen, but you have to keep going. That's how we're going to win right now, to be prepared to play that game for 60 minutes, and eventually the bounces will start coming, the opportunities will start coming and we'll start burying them more. That's how you have to build momentum."

Islanders -- The Isles won't get any closer to a win than they did before losing in OT to the Blue Jackets. They had two breakaways in overtime, but Frans Nielsen and rookie defenseman Travis Hamonic both were stopped by goalie Mathieu Garon before Jakub Voracek knocked home a rebound for the win.

New York has lost back-to-back overtime games, though the Isles did score more than two goals for the first time in 12 games. They are 0-2-2 under new coach Jack Capuano, who replaced Scott Gordon last week.

"It's getting frustrating, no doubt about it," forward PA Parenteau said. "Guys have not been part of a situation like this in their hockey careers. We're doing some good things. The way we've played the last couple of games shows we're not giving up. We have the guys to turn it around in this locker room."

Who's hot -- No one on either team is filling the net. Hedberg has given the Devils solid goaltending in place of injured starter Martin Brodeur, allowing just one goal in the last two games. … Rick DiPietro has been on goal for each of the last two overtime losses, stopping 67 of 73 shots and looking much sharper than he did before spending two weeks watching Dwayne Roloson start.

Injury report -- Brodeur (injured elbow) won't play before next week at the earliest. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner (upper body) has missed New Jersey's last six games. … Islanders forward Trent Hunter, who scored his first goal of the season against Columbus, left later in the game with an undisclosed injury. Defenseman Mike Mottau is out indefinitely after being hit over the eye by a shot on Sunday. He joins four other defensemen -- Mark Streit (shoulder surgery), Andrew MacDonald (broken hand), Milan Jurcina (hamstring) and Jack Hillen (concussion) on the sidelines. Forward Kyle Okposo (shoulder surgery) is also out indefinitely.

Stat pack -- The Islanders are 66-27-11-2 all-time against the Devils' franchise at the Coliseum, including 7-2-1 in New Jersey's last 10 trips to Long Island. … The Isles slump includes an 0-for-27 drought on the power play.

Puck drop -- This is New York's longest stretch without a win since a 14-game skid in which the Islanders lost 11 times and tied three others between Feb. 13-March 15, 1990. If they don't win, they'll match the longest drought in franchise history, set by the expansion Isles in 1972-73. They know they can't keep making mistakes if they want to end the drought.

"When you make a couple more mistakes than the other team, you lose -- and that's what has been happening to us lately," DiPietro said. "We're playing hard and competing and trying to prove to everyone we care as much as they do.

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