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Islanders-Devils Preview

AP - Sports

Fresh off an impressive victory against the top team in the Eastern Conference, the New Jersey Devils are looking to create some momentum in a home-and-home set against the club at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

That didn't go as planned against the New York Islanders earlier this week.

The Devils look to re-establish their success versus the Islanders at Prudential Center on Thursday night when these rivals face off in the second of three matchups in a week.

New Jersey (37-24-5) beat the conference-leading New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday after dropping five of six (1-4-1).

"We were desperate for the points," said Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored his first goal in 10 games and added an assist. "This can give us a lot of confidence."

The Devils are sixth in the East, two points back of fifth-place Philadelphia and one in front of Ottawa for seventh. They would appear to be in strong position to improve their position, opening a home-and-home set with the Islanders (28-29-9).

New Jersey, however, failed to do just that Sunday, falling 1-0 on Long Island, as rookie Anders Nilsson stopped 24 shots for his first career win and shutout in just his third game.

While it's unclear if Nilsson will get another crack at New Jersey, Martin Brodeur is expected to be in net after making 25 saves against the Rangers, ending a personal five-game skid.

The future Hall of Famer stopped 24 shots in the last meeting with the Islanders. He also took the loss against them on Nov. 26, making 23 saves in a 3-2 defeat in Newark.

The Devils had won nine of the previous 11 matchups there with Brodeur going 6-2-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average.

Kovalchuk has also historically fared well against the Islanders, tallying eight goals and 13 assists in his last 16 meetings.

Teammate Zach Parise has scored six goals and set up 10 others in his past nine at home versus New York.

Still, New Jersey's captain is wary of facing another emotional divisional contest, and isn't underestimating the Islanders, who are seven points back of Winnipeg for the eighth and final playoff position in the East.

"At this time of year, we've seen how losing two, three games can bump you down pretty far in the standings," Parise told the team's official website. "I think it's more so, we need to know the type of energy and type of game we need to play regardless of who we're playing against. By no means are (the Islanders) out of it. They're not that far behind the eighth, ninth spot. I guess we have to expect a similar type of game (Thursday) that we did when we played there (Sunday)."

New York is looking to match a season-high three-game win streak and notch a second straight road victory following a five-game skid there.

Matt Moulson has three goals and three assists in his last six contests. He has been held to one goal in his last nine meetings with the Devils, but that tally came in the latest visit to Prudential Center.

New Jersey has done an excellent job against Islanders center John Tavares, the team leader with 63 points. Tavares has two goals in 15 career games against the Devils.

These teams meet again Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

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