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New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Islanders (36-28-10-4) at New Jersey Devils (40-24-12-2).

TIME: Sunday, 5 p.m. EST.

Following a frustrating seven-game stretch against the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders suddenly have all the momentum in the rivalry.

Looking for their fourth straight win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Islanders will also try to tighten their grip on the final Eastern Conference playoff spot when they meet the Devils at Continental Airlines Arena.

The Islanders suffered through an 0-6-1 slide against their area rivals before winning the last three meetings by a combined score of 12-8.

New York blew an opportunity to all but eliminate Buffalo in the race for eighth in the East with Saturday's 3-2 home loss to Carolina. The Sabres earned one point with a 2-2 tie in Pittsburgh and now trail the Islanders by five points.

"There are four games left," Islanders center Cliff Ronning said. "This is still in our hands. It all comes down to how we play. How Buffalo plays shouldn't concern us."

After this game, the Islanders conclude the season against Montreal, Carolina and Philadelphia, while the Sabres play lowly Columbus and the New York Rangers before finishing up with Northeast Division rivals Toronto and Montreal.

The Devils had been just 6-5-1-1 in March before Scott Clemmensen sparked them to a 5-0 win over Atlanta on Friday.

The seldom-used goaltender stopped 18 shots for his second road shutout of the season as New Jersey solidified its hold on sixth place in the conference. The Devils trail Ottawa by two points for fifth and lead seventh-place Montreal by three with four games to play.

The Devils had converted only four of their last 47 power-play opportunities entering the game. Against the Thrashers, they made good on four of 11 power-play tries, including two in the final 2:08 of the game.

Patrik Elias, four goals shy of his career high set in 2000-01, is riding a four-game point streak, recording two goals and five assists.

Martin Brodeur, who recently became fastest goalie to 400 wins in NHL history, will likely be back in net for this game.

STANDINGS: Islanders - 86 points, 3rd place, 12 PB, Atlantic Division. Devils - 94 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Trent Hunter, 24 goals and 48 points; Oleg Kvasha, 31 assists; Eric Cairns, 184 PIM. Devils - Elias, 36 goals and 73 points; Scott Gomez, 51 assists; Colin White, 94 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 26): Islanders - Power play: 15.8 percent (48 for 303), 18th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (288 for 340), 7th. Devils - Power play: 15.8 percent (46 for 292), 18th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (215 for 253), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Rick DiPietro (21-17-5, 5 SO, 2.35 GAA); Wade Dubielewicz (1-0-0, 0, 0.00). Devils - Brodeur (35-25-11, 10, 2.04); Clemmensen (3-1-0, 2, 1.01).

SEASON SERIES: Islanders, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; Islanders, 3-1. At Uniondale, N.Y., Mark Parrish scored twice and Garth Snow made 28 saves for the Islanders.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 12-17-7-3 on the road; Devils - 20-12-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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