NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 Tot
New Jersey 0 1 0 1
NY Islanders 2 0 2 4
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET22:00 BRT, January 21, 2021
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York  Attendance: 0

Rivalry renews as Islanders host Devils

New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders

  1. New York has won five of the past six matchups against New Jersey and held the Devils to three goals or fewer in each of those games. The Islanders are 10-2-0 in the past 12 meetings at home.
  2. Semyon Varlamov blanked Boston 1-0 on Monday and is the first Islanders goaltender to open a season with consecutive shutouts, and the first on any team since Michal Neuvirth with Philadelphia in 2015-16.
  3. New Jersey's .731 points percentage (8-2-3) in the regular season since February 20, 2020 is tied for fifth in the league. Only Vegas (.857), Philadelphia (.846), St. Louis (.767) and Colorado (.750) are better during that span.
  4. Miles Wood needs a goal in this game to match the Devils' record for goals in consecutive games to start a season. Mel Bridgman (1986-87), Claude Loiselle (1987-88), Randy McKay (1997-98) and Kyle Palmieri (2018-19) all scored in the first four games.
  5. Captain Anders Lee has registered 13 shots on goal through three games, tied for the most by an Islander since 1994-95 (Pierre Turgeon, 16; Zigmund Palffy, 14). Lee has nine goals in his past 12 games against the Devils.
  6. Jack Hughes notched his second career three-point game in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Rangers. He already has six points in three games, a total he didn't reach in his 2019-20 rookie season until his 11th game.

During a conference call on Dec. 31, New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said he looked forward to the competitive nature of a regular season consisting entirely of divisional games.

It hasn't taken long for the Islanders and Lamoriello's former employer, the New Jersey Devils, to learn just how tightly packed the East Division will be.

The Islanders and Devils are both looking to build off narrow victories when the longtime rivals meet in Uniondale, N.Y., on Thursday night.

The Islanders have been off since Monday, when Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored with 4:09 left in the third period to provide the only goal in a 1-0 win over the visiting Boston Bruins.

The Devils earned their second consecutive win Tuesday night, when Jack Hughes scored twice in a 4-3 victory over the host New York Rangers.

The one-goal game was the third straight for the Devils, who fell to the Bruins, 3-2, in the shootout last Thursday before earning a 2-1 overtime win over Boston on Saturday. The Islanders opened the season with a pair of lopsided games against the Rangers -- a 4-0 win last Thursday and a 5-0 loss on Saturday -- before evening their goal differential Monday.

Entering Wednesday, six of the eight teams in the East Division had a goal differential between one and minus-1 -- everyone except the Philadelphia Flyers (plus-4) and Pittsburgh Penguins (minus-4).

"I think the rivalries will just raise to a level that we haven't seen in a long, long time," said Lamoriello, who was the Devils' president and general manager from 1987 to 2015. "I go back to the old Patrick Division and I remember what that was like."

The Islanders haven't wasted any time displaying the methodical style that helped New York mount a surprising run to the conference finals in the playoff bubbles last season.

Pageau's goal was one of just 17 shots by the Islanders, who have scored only five goals but also allowed only five through three games.

"Obviously, it was nice to score that goal," Pageau said. "We played playoff hockey and we stuck with it and that's why we came out on top."

The one goal was enough for Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov, who recorded 27 saves to become the first goalie in franchise history to open a season with back-to-back shutouts. Varlamov missed Saturday's game against the Rangers after he was hit in the neck by a puck during warmups.

On Thursday, he'll likely be opposed by another hot goalie in the Devils' Mackenzie Blackwood, who made 47 saves Tuesday and has allowed just six goals in 115 shots this season.

"I don't really like to reflect on stats that much because when they're bad, sometimes they're out of your control and when they're good, sometimes you're getting bounces you wouldn't otherwise," Blackwood said. "It's all about how I feel. Right now, I feel pretty good."

--Field Level Media

Updated January 20, 2021

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