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Islanders' Halak back in goal against Devils

Schneider in net for New Jersey in battle for important two points

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

ISLANDERS (30-19-7) at DEVILS (29-22-7) 

TV: 7 p.m., ET; MSG+2, MSG+, NHL.TV 

NEWARK, N.J. -- The second through sixth place teams in the Metropolitan Division are separated by 10 points, which is why the New York Islanders know how important two points will be against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday.

New York, which begins a season-long seven-game road trip, has 67 points, and the Devils have 65. Each team is coming off a loss. 

"We want to start [the trip] with a win. It's an important game with the standings the way they are. These guys are right on our heels," forward Josh Bailey said after the Islanders had an optional morning skate at Prudential Center. 

Jaroslav Halak will be in goal Friday for the Islanders after Thomas Greiss played in the 3-2 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. 

The Islanders have proven to be comfortable and successful no matter which goalie has played, which could be important as a lot of games are played in a short period of time down the stretch. 

"It definitely works to our advantage. Both of those guys have been great for us," Bailey said. "I think either one of them going into games, we have lots of confidence in them as players. That's half the battle going into games." 

The Devils are expected to have Cory Schneider in goal. He has started the second-most games in the League (48) and has been a key to their success. He has a 2.04 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. 

"He's a great goalie. He is one of those guys that not only will play in the NHL but you see him in hockey beyond that, whether it's World Cup or Olympics," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. 

Also impressive has been the Devils' power play, which has scored on 37.1 percent (13-for-35) of its chances in the past 11 games. 

"Their power play has been really good," Capuano said. "It's nothing fancy. They just get pucks back and are aggressive on draws. They win the line of scrimmage and they pound pucks to the net." 

Schneider allowed a season-high five goals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. 

"[The games are] all important right now," Schneider said. "I think we all need to be better. We can't lose sight of the fact that we were playing good hockey prior to the last game so we can't sit there and throw away everything we did before that because of six bad minutes." 

Devils coach John Hynes agreed with Schneider's assessment. 

"I think we'd like to have a better performance than we did against [Philadelphia]," Hynes said. "That's something that we've been able to do in the past when we've come off games we didn't necessarily like. We're going to need to make sure we are ready to go tonight. Playing a team real close with us, neck-and-neck in the standings. And the last couple of times [the Islanders] have played us, they have outplayed us." 

The Islanders shut out the Devils 4-0 on Dec. 13, and defeated them 2-1 on Nov. 3. New Jersey won 3-2 in a shootout on Oct. 31. 

Here are the projected lineups: 

Mikhail Grabovski - John Tavares - Ryan Strome   
Nikolay Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo   
Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Josh Bailey   
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck   

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk   
Brian Strait - Travis Hamonic   
Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky   

Jaroslav Halak   
Thomas Greiss   

Injured: Calvin de Haan (lower body), Eric Boulton (lower body), Adam Pelech (upper body) 
Scratched: Jean-Francois Berube, Steve Bernier  

Joseph Blandisi - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak   
Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri   
Reid Boucher - Jacob Josefson - Tyler Kennedy   
Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo   

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson  
John Moore - David Schlemko   
Seth Helgeson - Jon Merrill  

Cory Schneider 
Keith Kinkaid   

Injured: Michael Cammalleri (right hand), Stefan Matteau (facial fracture), Patrik Elias (right knee), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist) 
Scratched: Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Gelinas, Damon Severson   

Status report: The Islanders will have no other lineup changes from Thursday besides in goal. ... Hynes said Gionta (upper body) will play, Josefson will be a game-time decision and that Merrill, who has missed the past 12 games because of an arm injury, will return to the lineup. Severson will be a healthy scratch. ... Cammalleri will miss the next two games, including Friday, and could return against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. 

Who's hot: Tavares, who had a goal Thursday, has five goals and six assists during a seven-game point streak. ... Leddy has one goal and seven assists in seven games. ... Blandisi has two goals in the past three games.

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