The New Jersey Devils still have a chance to make the playoffs, though they haven’t been doing much to get themselves there.
A game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum may be the remedy.
The Devils are in a pack of five teams battling for the final two postseason berths in the Eastern Conference heading into Saturday night’s matchup with the Islanders.
New Jersey (31-28-14) went into the final 10 games of the season five points behind the postseason cutoff before picking up a point with a 3-2 shootout home loss to Phoenix on Thursday.
Ryane Clowe and Adam Henrique scored in regulation for the Devils, who fell to 0-9 in shootouts and extended their NHL-record streak to 13 straight losses in the tiebreaker dating to last season. They hadn’t gone past overtime since Jan. 16.
"(Shootouts are) a big part of the reason the playoffs are getting tougher and tougher to reach," said Martin Brodeur, who finished with 25 saves and also picked up his 45th career assist on Henrique’s goal.
"I was feeling good about it mentally. I thought we were going to pull through this one and boost our confidence a little bit knowing we’re able to do it, and again it was the same old thing."
The Devils, 2-4-1 in their last seven, trail Columbus, Detroit, Washington and Toronto for the two East wild-card spots with nine games remaining.
"We lost some games and some points that we shouldn’t," said 42-year-old forward Jaromir Jagr, who leads the team with 60 points. "But on the other side, we have the opportunity to make a great story if we make it, so it’s at least exciting. That’s the way I look at it. Something to remember, something special."
Two of New Jersey’s remaining opponents are in the playoff picture – Boston and Washington – while the other seven are either out of contention or facing much bigger hurdles to qualify.
One of those teams is the Islanders, whom the Devils face twice more including this game. New Jersey has gone 8-2-0 on the road in the series since January 2011.
On its last trip to Long Island, New Jersey had its second-highest goal outburst of the season in a 6-1 victory March 1. The Devils also earned a 2-1 win there Dec. 28 after the Islanders handed them one of their shootout losses, 4-3 in New Jersey in the first meeting this season Oct. 4.
New York (28-35-10), last in the Metropolitan Division, is coming off a shootout loss of its own. The Islanders had won four of six before falling 3-2 in Tampa on Thursday, but earned at least a point for the seventh time in 10 games.
Ryan Strome and Matt Donovan scored in regulation for the Islanders, winners of six of their 11 shootouts this season.
"We are trying to play hard at this point of the season, and we’re trying to get better each and every day," defenseman Travis Hamonic said. "I thought we played a pretty good game."
Kyle Okposo, with team highs of 27 goals and 69 points, was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury and his status against New Jersey is uncertain.
The Devils and Islanders meet again in New Jersey on April 11 in the second-to-last game for both.