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DEVILS (25-22-13) at ISLANDERS (23-30-8)
TV: MSG PLUS 2
Radio: WFAN 660 AM & 101.9 FM
Last 10: New Jersey 5-3-2; New York 3-6-1
Season series: This is the third of five games between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, each of whom own a road win in the series. The Islanders won 4-3 after a six-round shootout at Prudential Center on Oct. 4, while the Devils responded with a 2-1 victory on Dec. 28 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. New Jersey's Damien Brunner and New York's Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen each have two goals to lead their respective teams.
Big story: The Devils have one of the easier schedules left in terms of opponents' point percentages, including three of their remaining 20 games against the Islanders, who are last in the Metropolitan Division. Trying to make up ground in the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, these are points New Jersey can't afford to give away.
Devils: While there's serious business on the ice to take care of Saturday afternoon, there will also be a couple key storylines worth watching that go beyond whether New Jersey wins or loses.
Martin Brodeur will get the start in goal, his first since a nightmarish performance against the New York Rangers at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 26, when he was pulled after giving up six goals in two periods. With the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5 just days away, could this be his final start in a Devils uniform?
Jaromir Jagr will also have a chance to become the seventh player in NHL history to reach 700 goals. He scored No. 699 in a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday that drew the Devils to within three points of a playoff berth.
"We talked about (how), as hard as it is not to scoreboard watch here and look (at) what other teams are doing, we have to take care of our own game and put our head down and win as many games as we possibly can," coach Peter DeBoer said in Tom Gulitti's Fire & Ice blog. "That's all we're concentrating on."
Islanders: The first game since captain John Tavares was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered at the 2014 Sochi Olympics showed New York still possesses enough offense to win its share of games down the stretch.
Grabner, who scored 34 goals in his first season with the Islanders but has endured a disappointing year, scored a pair of shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill, and rookie Anders Lee scored twice in the third period in his first NHL game this season and third of his career. The Islanders finally edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Thursday when Lubomir Visnovsky scored 1:55 into overtime.
"It's almost like we come in here a little naive to the situation," Lee said in Newsday. "We came up to help this team win, the past is the past and we're just moving forward."
Who's hot: Devils forward Adam Henrique had a power-play goal, a shorthanded goal and five shots against the Blue Jackets. … Grabner also had five goals for Austria in Sochi. Visnovsky had a goal in the Islanders' final game prior to the break as well.
Injury report: Brunner (lower body) left New Jersey's game Thursday after two shifts. He didn't travel with the team to Long Island for practice Friday and it's likely forward Jacob Josefson takes his place in the lineup. Defenseman Bryce Salvador left in the third period Thursday with a bruised collarbone after blocking a shot. He made the trip but didn't practice, with Anton Volchenkov taking his place. Salvador said he thought he would be available Saturday. … Tavares (knee) is out. Nielsen (hand) and forward Matt Martin (lower body) practiced with the team Friday.
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