Somebody has to win as Islanders host Devils (Jan 07, 2018)
NEW YORK -- The only thing the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils need more than the NHL's version of a "bye week" is a win heading into their time off.
The two coldest teams in the league will attempt to stop their slides Sunday afternoon, when the Islanders host the Devils in the final game for both teams before they receive a five-day break.
The Islanders' losing streak hit five games Friday night when they were blanked by the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0. The Devils dropped their fourth in a row Thursday when they fell to the host Dallas Stars 4-3.
"There are a lot of similarities between the two teams," Devils left winger Taylor Hall told reporters following practice Saturday, "It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out."
At least the Devils (22-11-7) have salvaged a couple points during their 0-2-2 skid via a pair of overtime losses. New Jersey will enter Sunday two points behind the first-place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.
Despite the steady playoff position, though, the Devils know Sunday's game carries a little bit of urgency.
"It's a big game for us for numerous reasons," Devils coach John Hynes told reporters Saturday. "One, we're 0-2-2, we want to find a way to win. It's a Metro game against a division rival. And we want to make sure we go into the break with a win."
The Islanders (20-18-4), on the other hand, haven't earned a point in their losing streak, during which they've been outscored 25-8.
"Maybe it's a good time for a break," Islanders coach Doug Weight said following Friday's game. "Obviously, we need a little break. We look tired at times. We're generating chances and not scoring."
The free-fall by the Islanders has dropped them out of wild-card position in the Eastern Conference and into the basement in the Metropolitan Division. New York is two points behind the Carolina Hurricanes in the race for the second wild card and tied for last in the Metropolitan with the Philadelphia Flyers, who have a game in hand.
"It's extremely frustrating," Islanders left winger Anders Lee said Friday. "You start looking for answers and try to search within yourselves and within the team."
The Islanders' fortunes went further south during Friday's loss, when Josh Bailey (lower body) left in the second period and Andrew Ladd and Ryan Pulock both suffered undisclosed injuries in the third period. Newsday reported Bailey, who entered Saturday tied for second in the NHL with 50 points, is expected to be out until after the Islanders return to action Saturday.
Hynes said No. 1 goalie Cory Schneider would draw the start Sunday. Schneider took the loss Thursday, when he made 29 saves against the Stars.
Weight did not announce a goalie for Sunday, though it seems likely Jaroslav Halak will be in net. Halak made his seventh start in the last eight games Friday, when he stopped 34 shots.
Backup Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots in his most recent appearance Thursday, when the Islanders fell to the Flyers 6-4.