The New Jersey Devils have been one of the league's stingiest teams during their fast start, and that's certainly been the case when they've made the short trip east.
Eastern-Conference leading New Jersey looks to take three of four from the Islanders on Saturday night when the Atlantic Division teams meet for the third time in Uniondale.
After giving up a total of five goals during their five-game winning streak, the Devils allowed seven in a three-period stretch spanning a 4-2 loss to Carolina on Sunday and a 3-1 first-period deficit against Philadelphia on Friday.
Still, New Jersey (9-2-3) found a way to pull out its sixth win in seven games, with David Clarkson providing the go-ahead goal in the third period of a 5-3 victory over the Flyers.
Clarkson has been one of the NHL's top scorers with 10 goals in 14 games. He's also scored four goals in his last five games versus the Islanders.
"I don't know what it is, but I just keep going to the goal and eventually I'm going to get a chance to score,' said Clarkson. "A lot of it is just being in the right area."
Steve Bernier has just four goals on the season, but three have come in the last two against the Islanders. He had a two-goal effort in a 3-0 win at New York on Feb. 3.
While Ilya Kovalchuk has three goals and nine points in his last five games, he has only one assist in this series.
The Devils will try to build off their season-high goal total against a New York team that ranks near the bottom of the league in goals allowed (3.54 per game).
New Jersey is expected to face Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who has allowed fewer than three goals in only three of 11 starts. Nabokov has lost eight of 11 career starts against New Jersey with a 3.34 goals-against average.
In addition to tightening their defense, the last-place Islanders (5-7-1) will have to find a way to generate some offense after totaling one goal in their two home losses against the Devils. New York, which has been held to seven goals in losing six of its last seven at home to New Jersey (1-5-1), managed a season-low 19 shots in a 2-1 loss in the season opener Jan. 17, and posted its second-lowest with 22 on Feb. 3.
New York, though, hopes to carry in some momentum following a seven-goal outburst in its last two games.
Brad Boyes, Colin McDonald and John Tavares each scored as the Islanders snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers on Thursday.
"We found a way to handle adversity,' Tavares said. "We really challenged ourselves."
Tavares has been the team's hottest player and carries a four-game goal-scoring streak into this contest. He also had two goals and an assists to lead New York to a 5-4 overtime victory at New Jersey on Jan. 31.
While Martin Brodeur started in the first two games against New York, backup Johan Hedberg earned the shutout in the last meeting.
Hedberg, who is 2-0-1 with a 0.65 GAA in three starts, could get another shot with the Devils playing games on back-to-back nights.
New Jersey has a 10-2-1 record in the last 13 meetings.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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