Devils open homestand vs. Islanders
ISLANDERS (29-35-12) at DEVILS (34-36-5)
-- MSG PLUS (HD) RADIO -- WFAN 660
Last 10 --
New York 4-3-3; New Jersey 4-5-1
Season series --
This is the sixth and final meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals. The Islanders won the first two, 2-0 at home on Nov. 26 and 5-1 in Newark on Dec. 23. The Devils have since rebounded with three straight victories, 5-2 on Jan. 17 and 3-2 via shootout on March 6 at Nassau Coliseum and 3-2 in overtime on March 12 at Prudential Center.
Big story -- Zach Parise
, who underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee on Nov. 2, told reporters on Tuesday that he'll return to the lineup in one of the next three games. Parise received medical clearance to start skating on his own on March 2 and was on the ice for three weeks before participating in his first full practice with the team on March 24.
Goalie Rick DiPietro allowed four goals on 22 shots in a 4-1 loss to the Flyers on Saturday -- his second start since suffering facial fractures in a fight with Pittsburgh goalie Brent Johnson on Feb. 2. DiPietro yielded two goals in a 22-second span in the first period when Philadelphia built a 3-1 advantage. Isles' right wing Blake Comeau scored the lone goal for the Isles, his career-high 21st of the season.
"With Ricky, I don't care about his wins or losses right now, his goals-against average or his save percentage," interim coach Jack Capuano said. "I just want him to play and get the rust off."
An incredible 23-3-2 run has been followed by a 1-4-1 slide that has ended any hope of a 14th straight playoff appearance. The Devils dropped a 2-0 decision to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, their second straight loss via shutout and seventh of the season. They have scored one or no goals in 34 of their 75 games this season and two or less 49 times. The team has been held scoreless in three of its last five games and hasn't scored a goal in a team-record 173 minutes, 55 seconds.
Who's hot --
Islanders rookie right wing Michael Grabner has 3 goals, 6 points and a plus-1 rating in the last five games. … Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
has made 14 straight starts, going 8-5-1 and yielding more than two goals just twice -- both losses -- over that stretch.
Injury report --
Devils defensemen Colin White
and Anton Volchenkov
, who both missed Saturday's game against Buffalo with lower-body injuries, are doubtful and Parise (knee) is day-to-day. … The Islanders are without forward Trent Hunter (left knee) and defensemen Mark Eaton(hip), Andrew MacDonald (hip), Mark Streit (left shoulder) and Mike Mottau (hip). Captain Doug Weight (back spasms) announced on Tuesday that he would sit out the remainder of the season.
Stat pack --
The Islanders lead the NHL with 1,299 blocked shots and 795 takeaways. MacDonald leads the club with 160 blocked shots and John Tavares has a team-high 67 takeaways.
Puck drop --
"We have five games at home, so we've just got to make a good show for our fans and if we do well then it continues what we accomplished is a lot and I think going into next season there's a lot of positives, a lot of positives," Brodeur said. "We've given chances to kids that probably if we had a great season would have never had a chance to be in the NHL. Now we know who's capable of what and that's going to make (GM Lou Lamoriello's) job interesting in the summer to put the puzzle together again and go back at it."