Entering this season, the Devils had a lifetime 73-107-22-5 against the rival Islanders. While it's a losing record, New Jersey has routinely taken four of six games from the Islanders in recent years.
But this year, the Islanders have flipped the script, beating the Devils twice and outscoring New Jersey, 7-1. The Devils will look to win their first game against the Islanders today at Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders easily defeated the Devils, 5-1, in their last meeting on December 23. Josh Bailey scored two goals in the first 5:39, and the Islanders held a 3-0 lead at the end of the first period. The Isles shut down the Devils the rest of the game, which was interim head coach Jacques Lemaire's first of the season.
But the Devils enter this game a different team from December 23. The team won two of their last three games, scoring 12 goals in those three games. They broke an 11-game road losing streak at Tampa Bay Friday and gained a point with an overtime loss on Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
Several struggling Devils are also finding their game. Martin Brodeur has dramatically improved, and scorers Patrik Elias and David Clarkson are pacing the offense. Even Ilya Kovalchuk found his scoring touch, recording four points in his past three games.
But it's not all good news in New Jersey. The Islanders, usually basement dwellers, lead the Devils by eight points for last in the Atlantic Division and NHL. New York is also 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, and they've improved dramatically since their own early season struggles, which included a 14-game losing streak.
John Tavares, arguably an All-Star snub, leads the Isles with 18 goals and 33 points. He's scored ten goals in his last 15 games.