Islanders-Devils Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 25, 2011
The New Jersey Devils haven't been overly impressive on the offensive end over the last two games - or for the entire season, for that matter - but outstanding special teams play and goaltending have lifted the club. The New York Islanders' inability to score is a major cause of their freefall. New Jersey goes for its sixth consecutive victory in this matchup of Atlantic Division rivals Saturday when the Islanders try to split this home-and-home series with their first road win since March. Despite scoring just twice in regulation in their last two games, the Devils (12-8-1) have won both thanks to stopping all 10 power plays and Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg combining to turn aside 58 of 59 shots. Hedberg made 23 saves, including one on a third-period penalty shot by Michael Grabner, to earn his 19th career shutout in Friday's 1-0 victory over the Islanders (5-11-4). "We did a lot of good things tonight," said coach Peter DeBoer, whose Devils are among the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL with 55 goals. "Blocked shots, got pucks out when we needed to (and were) solid through the neutral zone." The Devils fought off all four of New York's power-play opportunities Friday and own the league's top penalty kill at 94.0 percent. They have not allowed a power-play goal in 36 chances at home this season. With the quick turnaround, Brodeur, who stopped 35 of 36 shots in Wednesday's 2-1 shootout victory over Columbus, could make a sixth straight home start. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner is 4-0-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average in four starts versus the Islanders since a 5-1 loss Dec. 23 that prevented New Jersey from winning its seventh in a row at home in this matchup. The Devils posted one-goal wins in the last two meetings between these clubs in New Jersey in 2010-11 and have lost just once in New York's last nine visits. Whoever DeBoer gives the nod to Saturday will face an Islanders team that has been shut out three times in four games and is last in the NHL with 38 goals. "It's definitely frustrating," Grabner said following the team's 14th loss in 16 games. "... It seems we're getting a little tight and just try too hard to get it in." New York opens a four-game trip with just 11 goals in seven road games. It is 0-8-2 away from Nassau Coliseum since beating Tampa Bay 5-2 on March 22. The Islanders' merry-go-round at goaltender may have stopped for the time being after Al Montoya's 22-save effort Friday. It was his first start since Nov. 10 due to injury. Montoya went 0-0-2 with a 2.34 GAA against New Jersey last season. Devils captain Zach Parise has not scored in the last five games at the Prudential Center, but he has six goals and nine assists in his last eight at home against the Islanders. Parise missed New York's three visits last season due to a knee injury. New Jersey rookie defenseman Adam Larsson has an assist in each of the last four games.
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