The Devils will look to finish off a home-and-home set against the Islanders with another win tonight.
The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (25-23-10) at the New York Islanders (26-21-10; SBN Blog: Lighthouse Hockey)
The Time: 6:00 PM ET
The Broadcast: TV – MSG; Radio - WFAN 660 AM and 101.9 FM
The Last Devils-Islanders Game: Last night the Devils defeated the Islanders in a spirited game. Devante Smith-Pelly had the Devils 1st goal after being a healthy scratch of late. It was a really satisfying play as Jon Merrill blocked a shot, Travis Zajac jumped on it, and then found the surging Smith-Pelly who skated right in on Thomas Greiss and put it past with a sweet backhander. A minute later Zajac would hook John Tavares and concede a penalty shot. Fortunately for the Devils, Cory Schneider was up to the task and had no problem stopping the attempt. In the 2nd period Adam Henrique and Zajac would hook up for a shorthanded goal to extend the lead. Then early in the 3rd period, Pavel Zacha sniped a powerplay goal past Greiss with P.A. Parenteau and Damon Severson earning the assists. The Devils had a 3-0 lead but the end of the game was far from comfortable as Andrew Ladd would pull a goal back for the Islanders just after the Zacha goal. Anthony Beauvillier then found the back of the net with just over 6 minutes remaining. Nick Leddy had a great chance late in the game to tie it up but missed an open net. Schneider finished with 40 saves on 42 shots as the Devils were outshot 42-21. You can read Devin's full recap of the game here.
The Goal: More of the same. I want to see the Devils come out with the energy and commitment to the team that they had last night. While it's true that you need much more than hard work to win hockey games, it does allow you to create opportunities. Last night the Devils were able to take advantage of their chances to get out to a comfortable lead and allow themselves some room to breathe as the Islanders pushed back strong as the game went into the later stages. I thought the Devils were able to find a nice balance between their skill and grittiness for the majority of the game which helped them to victory.
Keep It Up: It really has been awesome to watch Pavel Zacha lately. With his goal last night, he now has 6 goals and 3 assists over his last 13 games while averaging over 14 minutes per night. I've also enjoyed watching Miles Wood and Joe Blandisi bringing a ton of energy when they hit the ice. It will be interesting to see if Michael Cammalleri draws back into the line up and if so, at whose expense.
Cut Down on the Penalties: Though it didn't hurt them last night (they even scored on a penalty kill), I'd prefer to see the Devils be a bit more mindful to stay out of the box. Going up against a tough Islanders team on the back end of a 2 game set is hard enough. I hope the Devils can keep this game at even strength or draw the Islanders into the box to make the game a bit easier to manage.
Potential Goaltending Matchup: I would not be surprised to see a rematch of last night's goaltenders, Cory Schneider (19-17-8, 2.63, .914) vs. Thomas Greiss (18-11-3, 2.55, .917) as both teams are fighting hard for points. Schneider has continued to be awesome in 2017 and now has a .932 SV% in 18 games this year. Though it is possible we see either Keith Kinkaid (6-6-2, 2.59, .920) for the Devils or Jean-Francois Berube (2-2-2, 2.97, .904) for the Islanders.
Your Take: Which players do you think will make an impact tonight? What are your expectations for this game? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!