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Mar 24, 2024 3:51 am

‘Tons of urgency’ for Islanders vs. Devils

Cal Clutterbuck

The New York Islanders spent two weeks flirting with the possibility of falling well out of contention in the Eastern Conference wild-card race before delivering one of their best performances of the season on Saturday.

The Islanders know their strong performance will be rendered meaningless if they cannot produce another similar effort to start getting on a roll. Their next chance at a victory will occur Sunday when they host the New Jersey Devils in Elmont, N.Y.

New York (30-25-15, 75 points) has 12 games left to vault into a wild-card spot and heads into Sunday three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for that second wild-card slot. The Islanders held that spot after a 6-1 win at Anaheim on March 10 gave them six straight victories, but then they dropped their next six (0-5-1) before an impressive showing in Saturday afternoon’s 6-3 home win over the Winnipeg Jets.

“It shows what we are capable of,” said Cal Clutterbuck, who scored New York’s first two goals of a 15-shot opening period. “I think consistency is what we are looking for now.”

Besides Clutterbuck, Mathew Barzal scored and collected two assists to give him 51, his most since his rookie season in 2017-18. Kyle Palmieri, Hudson Fasching and Anders Lee scored in a game in which the Islanders built a 6-1 lead through the second period and got 39 shots on goal two days after allowing four straight goals in a 6-3 loss at Detroit.

“There’s tons of urgency at this time of the year, especially the position we’ve put ourselves in,” New York defenseman Noah Dobson said. “Every game, we’ve got to play with the same urgency and come flying out of the gate. It’s going to be important to do the same thing (Sunday).”

The Devils (34-33-4, 72 points) are facing a tougher wild-card situation than the Islanders. They have 11 games to make up a six-point deficit.

Inconsistent all season, New Jersey is 4-8-0 in its past 12 games since a 7-2 rout at San Jose on Feb. 27. After scoring nine goals in three-goal victories over the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jets, the Devils took a 5-2 home loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

“We didn’t play well at all,” New Jersey interim coach Travis Green said. “Everything I said the other night that I liked (Thursday), we did the opposite.”

Jesper Bratt and Tomas Nosek scored in a 36-second span in the opening minute of the second period, but the Devils registered 20 shots on a goal, went 0-for-4 on the power play and gave up three straight goals in a span of 4:55 later in the period before allowing another tally midway through the third.

“A lot of bad plays, bad passes,” Nosek said. “We need to dig deep, and everybody needs to play better (Sunday).”

The Islanders are 7-5-1 in the past 13 meetings though the Devils began the season series with a pair of 5-4 victories. Jack Hughes scored the game-winner 2:19 into overtime Oct. 20 in Elmont, N.Y., and the Devils scored three times in the third period in a comeback home win on Nov. 28.

–Field Level Media

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