Isles aim to bounce back vs. Devils

( – The New York Islanders saw their second five-game
winning streak of the month snapped the last time out, but the Isles are
hoping for a quick return to the win column in Saturday’s home clash against
the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders matched their season-high for consecutive wins when they opened
a home-and-home series against Washington with an overtime victory Wednesday
at Nassau Coliseum. New York couldn’t post its first six-game winning streak
since the 2007-08 season in the rematch, however, and lost a 5-2 decision
Friday in the nation’s capital.

Alex Ovechkin recorded the game-winning goal for the Capitals, notching his
12th marker of the season in the second period to give Washington a 3-2 lead.

The Caps would only add to their cushion in the final stanza, as the Isles
lost for only the second time in 12 games. New York also had a five-game tear
halted with a 5-2 setback at Tampa Bay on Nov. 15.

John Tavares and Anders Lee each lit the lamp in Saturday’s loss, while Chad
Johnson allowed four goals on 26 shots.

“We didn’t handle the puck the way we wanted to,” Lee said. “They took
advantage of some opportunities and tonight our sloppy play cost us.”

Johnson, who also lost the Nov. 15 game against the Lightning, fell to 5-3-0
on the season. Jaroslav Halak will get the call on Sunday when he attempts to
win for a ninth straight start. New York’s No. 1 netminder hasn’t tasted
defeat since giving up three goals in San Jose on Nov. 1.

Halak owns a 3-4-1 mark and a 2.57 goals against average in his career against
New Jersey.

New York could be without defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky
tonight, as both blueliners are suffering from upper-body injuries. Boychuk
sat out Friday after getting hurt in the first part of the home-and-home,
while Visnovsky left in the second period of the loss against Washington and
did not return.

Boychuk is leading all Isles defensemen with 14 points on two goals and 12
assists. Visnovsky has one goal and five helpers.

Saturday’s tilt marks the first of four meetings between the Islanders and
Devils this season. New York won three of five encounters in 2013-14,
including two straight wins to end the season series. New Jersey earned a
point in each of last season’s meetings (2-0-3) but the Isles have won five of
the past seven contests in this matchup.

The Devils have claimed five of the past seven meetings on Long Island.

New Jersey is currently mired in a rough patch, having won only three times
over the past 12 games (3-7-2).

The Devils were able to earn a point in Friday’s home test against Detroit,
but that was hardly consolation considering Jersey held a 4-1 lead before
falling 5-4 in a shootout.

New Jersey led 3-1 after 20 minutes and pushed the cushion to three goals when
Mike Cammalleri scored on the power play just 28 seconds into the second
period. Detroit would cut the deficit to 4-3 by the end of the second and Drew
Miller evened the score midway through the third period.

Gustav Nyquist later recorded the only goal of the shootout to give the Red
Wings a remarkable comeback victory.

Cammalleri scored twice in the frustrating loss, while Jaromir Jagr supplied a
goal and an assist for the Devils, who have dropped five of their last six
games. Cory Schneider turned aside 28 shots in defeat.

“No excuses for us. I think we’re ready to not dwell on this, though. We can’t
dwell on it. We can’t start overthinking things,” said Cammalleri. “We’ve got
to pull up our socks, man up a bit, wake up tomorrow and go play a big one.”

The Devils did play most of the third period without centermen Adam Henrique
and Travis Zajac, who both left the game with injuries and are questionable
for Saturday.

Jagr recorded his 709th career goal on Friday, moving him past Mike Gartner
for sole possession of sixth place on the NHL’s all-time list. The 42-year-old
Czech also has 1,770 points, leaving him one point behind Marcel Dionne for
fifth place in league history.

Tonight’s test kicks off a three-game road trip for the Devils, who are 6-7-1
as the guest this season and have lost three of their last four games away
from the Garden State.