The New Jersey Devils (28-38-14) take on the New York Islanders (39-29-12) in their season series finale in the Devils’ last home game of the season; the Devils are 1-2-0 against the Isles thus far, their lone win coming by a score of 3-2 at home back in February. All three game recaps are here:
Keith Kinkaid (8-12-3, 2.58 GAA, .920 save percentage) will get the start in net tonight as will Jaroslav Halak (11-9-5, 2.83 GAA, .914 save %); Kinkaid posted a shutout against the Flyers in his last start, making 35 saves for a 1-0 overtime win. It was just the third shutout of his career, with the other two coming last season. Halak made 29 saves to earn a 3-0 shutout in the Islanders’ last game (against Carolina).
Miles Wood and Jacob Josefson returned to the lineup Thursday night and will remain there. Steven Santini and Luke Gazdic were sent down to Albany (AHL) to help the Devils out in their playoff pursuit; they did win 4-3 yesterday on a late power play goal from Nick Lappin. John Tavares is out for the rest of the regular season after suffering an injury in the game against New Jersey last Friday.
Kyle Palmieri is just one (!) goal away from 100 in his career so hopefully he’ll get that one before the season ends tomorrow.
The Devils have plenty of motivation to win today’s game. They have won just three of their last 21 games, and while a win would hurt their draft pick, it would do wonders for their confidence going into the offseason (especially because I don’t see them winning tomorrow in the last ever game at Joe Louis Arena).
And if that isn’t enough, it’s the last game at The Rock for the season. The fans have been nothing but supportive this season (albeit we are a little frustrated) and they have continually come out to watch games and fill The Rock. A win would be nice.
And if that isn’t enough, it’s Patrik Elias’s official last game before retirement. He’ll skate with the team for warm-ups and take one last lap around The Rock before the game begins. He won’t actually play (he doesn’t want to) but he will be with the team. It would be nice to send him off with one last win, just to honor arguably the greatest Devils forward in franchise history. If you can make it to The Rock tonight, please do.
And if that still isn’t enough, the Islanders need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. If the Devils defeat them tonight, they’ll effectively be eliminated from postseason contention. What more could you want?
It should be a good, chippy, fast-paced game from both teams tonight; both teams still have something to play for. Puck drops at 6PM.