If the New York Islanders are finally getting their act together, a trip to New Jersey will tell the story.
The resurgent Islanders hope to end their recent problems against the Devils and extend their overall winning streak to three games when the teams meet at Continental Airlines Arena.
New York has won two straight following a season-high seven-game losing streak.
Shawn Bates and Trent Hunter had a goal and two assists apiece, and set up Radek Martinek’s go-ahead score in the third period as the Islanders battled back from a two-goal hole to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Tuesday.
“That line needed a little jump on that side, and Hunter was just what the doctor ordered,” Islanders coach Steve Stirling said.
As good as the Islanders feel right now, a win over the defending Stanley Cup champions would do wonders for their confidence. New York has managed just seven goals during an 0-5-1 skid against New Jersey, and has been outscored by a combined 10-0 in the last two meetings.
The Islanders last beat the Devils on April 1, 2002, 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
If the Islanders are to start beating teams like the Devils, they’ll need to make immediate improvements on their league-worst power play. They went 0-for-5 with the man advantage Tuesday, and have scored only 11 power-play goals this season.
New York’s struggles could work to the advantage of one of New Jersey’s strengths as the Devils lead the league in penalty-killing percentage, allowing a league-low 10 power-play goals.
The Devils have also won two in a row, including a stirring 2-1 victory over Ottawa on Saturday. New Jersey struck for both of its goals in the final 1:37, capped by Brian Gionta’s game-winner with just 18 seconds left.
Martin Brodeur made 18 saves for his league high-tying 14th win of the season. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner leads the NHL with five shutouts.