The streaking New Jersey Devils are tied atop the Atlantic Division, but they can’t seem to beat one of the teams that’s near the bottom.
The New York Islanders look stay perfect against New Jersey this season and extend their winning streak over them to six games when they meet on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, where the Devils have won five in a row and 10 of 11.
On Saturday, the Devils (26-15-3) overcame an early two-goal deficit and earned their third straight shootout victory over Buffalo, 3-2. After David Clarkson tied the score at 2 with 1:07 to play in regulation, Zach Parise and Patrik Elias scored in the shootout for New Jersey.
“We found a way to win,” the Devils’ Sergei Brylin said. “Call it whatever you want, but two points is two points.”
Martin Brodeur finished with 21 saves while allowing two or fewer goals for the fifth straight game. Brodeur hasn’t lost since a 5-2 road defeat to the Islanders on Dec. 29, posting a 1.16 goals-against average in that span.
New Jersey has the Eastern Conference’s best home record at 13-5-0 this season. Brodeur has started all games at the Devils’ new arena and has a 2.01 GAA there.
The Devils’ domination at home is part of a 19-5-1 surge overall that has them tied with Pittsburgh for first in the Atlantic with 55 points. This contest is the start of a three-game homestand and a stretch of eight of nine in Newark.
But one of New Jersey’s rare home losses this season was 1-0 to the Islanders (22-18-5) on Nov. 16. Including a 3-2 shootout win over April 8, the Isles have outscored the Devils 14-8 in five straight victories, recording four power-play and two short-handed goals.
Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro had 26 saves versus the Devils in November, and has a 1.30 GAA in three wins this season. Wade Dubielewicz, who picked up the win over the Devils in April, stopped 27 shots in the victory late last month.
The Islanders had won two straight on the road before Tuesday’s 3-1 home loss to Montreal, in which they mustered just one shot on goal in the first period and a season-low 18 for the game.
“It wasn’t what we were looking for, but there are no excuses,” the Islanders’ Bill Guerin said. “We had a bad first period.”
A former first-round pick of New Jersey in 1989, Guerin assisted on Richard Park’s goal against the Canadiens. Guerin hasn’t had a point against the Devils this season, but has 11 goals and 17 points in 18 career games against them.
The Isles are 6-2-1 in their last nine at New Jersey, and will be looking for their first three-game road winning streak in one season since Nov. 2-15, 2006. New York won its final two road games in 2006-07 and its road opener this season.
The Islanders are in fourth place in the Atlantic, two points ahead of the last-place New York Rangers, but only six points in back of the Devils and Penguins.