Devils aim to snap 6-game skid vs. Isles
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NEW YORK -- A win over the New Jersey Devils nine days ago helped snap an extended funk by the New York Islanders. The Devils will look to return the favor Tuesday night, when they again visit the Islanders in a matchup of Metropolitan Division rivals at Barclays Center.
The Islanders earned their third straight win Monday, when they edged the host Montreal Canadiens, 5-4, in overtime Monday. John Tavares' goal 1:51 into the extra session ensured a yeoman-like effort by backup goalie Thomas Greiss (a career-high 52 saves) would not go for naught for New York.
The Devils suffered their season-high sixth straight loss Saturday, when they returned from their "bye week" with a 5-3 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.
The mini-surge by the Islanders (23-18-4), which began with a 5-4 shootout win over the Devils on Jan. 7, has vaulted them out of last place in the wildly competitive Metropolitan and back into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The win Monday lifted New York into sole possession of the second wild card in the East, one point ahead of the New York Rangers and two points ahead of the Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes.
But the Islanders, who were outshot 56-24 Monday, also know they'll need to shore up a famously porous defense in order to sustain the winning streak. New York lost yet another defenseman Monday, when Scott Mayfield was hit in the face by a puck late in the second period and didn't play the rest of the way. Calvin de Haan (shoulder) is likely out for the year while Johnny Boychuk (lower body) has missed eight straight games.
"Not every game's going to be pretty," Tavares told NBCSN following Monday's game. "We got two points tonight. Opportunity to get better and (get back to) home (Tuesday)."
The Islanders will make up even more ground with a win Tuesday over the Devils (22-12-8), whose skid has imperiled their standing in the postseason race. New Jersey enters Tuesday third in the Metropolitan Division and just one point ahead of the first wild card, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and two points ahead of the Islanders.
Only one loss in the Devils' losing streak -- during which they've gone 0-3-3 -- has been by more than two goals. New Jersey has held a lead in four of the six defeats.
"I think it's about getting to our game right off the bat and having a consistent 60-minute focus," Devils head coach John Hynes told reporters following practice Monday afternoon. "That's what we've talked to our team about the last couple of days. That's our challenge. It's not so much about the Isles, it's about us getting to our game and sticking with it and handling momentum swings better than we have the last few games."
Hynes said No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider will make his third straight start Tuesday. Schneider took the loss Saturday, when he recorded 20 saves against the Flyers.
The Islanders are likely to turn to their No. 1 net-minder, Jaroslav Halak, in the second game of a back-to-back set. Halak earned the win Saturday, when he recorded 37 saves in a 7-2 victory over the Rangers.
Schneider is 3-5-2 in 10 career appearances against the Islanders. Halak is 12-4-2 in 20 games against the Devils.
Updated January 15, 2018