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
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
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
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
New Jersey rookie defenseman Adam Larsson has an assist in each
of the last four games.