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Lemaire to make return to New Jersey

by Mike G. Morreale /

ISLANDERS (7-18-6) at DEVILS (9-22-2)


Last 10 -- New York 3-6-1; New Jersey 2-8-0

Season series -- The Atlantic Division rivals are meeting for the second time this season. The Islanders ended a 14-game losing streak with a 2-0 victory at the Nassau Coliseum on Nov. 26 as Rick DiPietro made 29 saves for the shutout. New Jersey outshot the Islanders 13-1 in the third period but couldn't solve DiPietro, who was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

Big Story -- New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello made news Thursday morning when he fired coach John MacLean and replaced him with Jacques Lemaire for the remainder of the season. With the Devils having lost three straight and occupying 30th in the Leauge standings, Lamoriello said, "This was a decision that certainly is not one that is pleasant or we feel good about, but it's a decision in my mind that had to be made."

Team Scope:

Islanders -- The Islanders, 3-17-4 in their past 24 games, scored a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday when John Tavares scored his ninth of the season 3:23 into overtime, snapping Tampa's four-game winning streak in the process. Tavares got to a loose puck near the left post and swept a shot past goalie Dan Ellis to give the Islanders their first win in a game they didn't score first this season. PA Parenteau got the Islanders even at 1-1 in the closing seconds of the second period and Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves as the Islanders notched at least one point in their third straight game (2-0-1).

The Islanders recalled center Josh Bailey from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League for the game with Tampa Bay. Bailey, who hadn't played with New York since Nov. 21, had 6 goals and 11 assists in 11 games in the minors. He took two shots in 17:57 of action.

Devils -- New Jersey's 9-22-2 record after 33 games is stunning when you consider the club was 24-8-1 at the same point last season. The Devils have been outscored 15-3 in their last three losses, including a 5-1 loss at Washington on Tuesday.

The hope is Lemaire, back for a third stint with the Devils, can begin to fix things.

"I think, at this point, anything can help," said forward  David Clarkson. "We don't have too much positive going on. Jacques is a really smart coach, he knows the game really well, so I'm sure there's little things he'll be trying to do to get us going and working again. Do I think Johnny was doing anything wrong? No. It's just the situation that happened."

Who's hot
-- Devils left wing Ilya Kovalchuk has points in five of his team's last six games -- notching 3 goals and 4 assists over that stretch.

Injury report -- New Jersey has forwards Zach Parise (knee) and Jacob Josefson (hand) and defensemen Bryce Salvador (concussion) and Matt Taormina (ankle) on injured reserve. … In addition to DiPietro, the Islanders are without Mark Streit (shoulder), Kyle Okposo (shoulder), Doug Weight (back) and Trent Hunter (knee). The team also announced Tuesday that defenseman Mike Mottau needs surgery on his right hip and will miss the remainder of the season. The Isles did get veteran defenseman Mark Eaton back on Wednesday after he missed three games with a groin problem.

Stat pack -- The next start for Devils goalie Martin Brodeur will be the 1,100 of his career. The future Hall of Fame goalie is 607-339-30 with 105 ties and 113 shutouts.

Puck drop -- Dismissing MacLean was not an easy move for Lamoriello. He played 14 seasons for the Devils and has worked in numerous capacities for the organziation since retiring in 2002. Lamoriello said he doesn't want MacLean to stray to far from the organization.

"John is a professional and it's no secret John spent a lot of time with me in different capacities over the last few years so it wasn't easy on both sides, but he understood," Lamoriello said. "John is a class act in every way and a franchise and organizational person. We'll get together over the holidays and he'll be right back at work within the organization doing something."

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