(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils will continue their amazing push for the playoffs today, when they visit the rival New York Islanders in this afternoon's Atlantic Division clash at Nassau Coliseum.
The Devils were last in the NHL for a large part of the season, but by posting a 19-2-2 record over the last 23 games, New Jersey has at least played its way into the postseason conversation.
New Jersey enters today as the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference and it is still nine points out of a playoff spot. The Islanders are three points behind the Devils in the East's 14th spot.
The Devils picked up a third straight victory on Friday and all three wins on the streak have come by 2-1 margins. New Jersey notched a dramatic win against the visiting Penguins for the latest victory, as Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the game-winner on a power-play goal with just 25 seconds left in overtime.
The decisive tally was made possible when Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek was called for a hook at 2:46 of the extra session. Patrik Elias missed his initial chance from the right side, but gathered the puck, skated behind the Penguins net and dished back for Kovalchuk, whose one-timer hit the back of the net from the left circle.
"We worked hard. I don't think tonight was our best effort. We didn't have that jump in our legs, but we still found a way to win," said Kovalchuk.
Travis Zajac also tallied for the Devils, who have taken 11 of their last 12 games. Martin Brodeur made 25 stops for the win.
"Clutch players are coming through and it's definitely nice to see," said Brodeur.
In other good news for Jersey, the club's star winger Zach Parise skated on Thursday for the first time since suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee back in October. There is still no word on when the four-time 30-goal-scorer will be able to return to game action.
The Devils have won six of their last seven road games and are still 13-18-1 away from the Garden State this season.
The Isles have won their last two games and have outscored the opposition by a combined 9-3 score over that span. New York began a five-game homestand with Wednesday's 4-1 win over Minnesota and then notched a 5-2 victory against St. Louis on Saturday afternoon.
John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau scored first-period goals to send the Isles to Saturday's win over the Blues. Andrew MacDonald added two goals for New York, which had lost four in a row before winning its last two outings.
Michael Grabner finished with a goal and an assist in the victory, while Al Montoya made 21 saves.
"Every time that we step on the ice, especially lately, we wanna make a statement," said Montoya. "We want to show the other teams that we're buying into our system and we can play with anyone."
New York has won four of its last five games on home ice and the Isles are 14-15-4 as the host this season.
The Islanders have taken two of three from New Jersey this season, but the Devils posted a 5-2 victory when the clubs met last on Jan. 17 at the Coliseum. It was the third win for New Jersey in its last seven games overall against the Isles and just the Devils' second victory in seven trips to Long Island.