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|The Buccaneers signed kicker Chandler Catanzaro to a three-year , $9.75 million contract as a free agent this summer with the intention of ending the shuffling they had to go through at the spot last year.
Catanzaro’s first game didn’t go as well as planned, however. Catanzaro missed an extra point and a 53-yard field goal before making a go-ahead 26-yard field goal with 23 seconds to play.
While the Bucs made a sizable investment in Catanzaro, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reports that they are kicking the tires on a potential challenger for the job. Auman reports kicker Nick Rose will work out for the team on Friday.
Rose made 10-of-11 field goals and 18-of-20 extra points in eight games for Washington last year and then made 1-of-3 field goals and 5-of-6 extra points in two games for the Chargers.
The New Jersey Devils have held a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference every day since winning their season opener on Oct. 7.
Yet with only five games remaining on their schedule, the Devils are clinging to the eighth and final playoff berth in the East, trying to stave off a late-season push by the surging Florida Panthers.
On Saturday night at the Prudential Center, the Devils (40-28-9) look to take another step closer to their first playoff appearance in six years when they host the New York Islanders (32-36-10).
The Devils are 6-2-1 in their last nine games , coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, a defeat that snapped a three-game winning streak that solidified New Jersey’s hold on the second wild card in the East.
“The last stretch of games, we’ve been playing some good hockey and finding ways to string wins together,” said Devils winger Kyle Palmieri, who has four goals in his last three games. “We have to reset quickly after (the loss to Pittsburgh) and get ready for a big weekend and see where this weekend takes us.”
After hosting the Islanders in the finale of a four-game homestand on Saturday, New Jersey travels to Montreal to skate against the Canadiens on Sunday , setting the stage for the final week of the regular season.
“It’s exciting, every night the buildings are electric, the games seem to all go down to the wire with exciting atmospheres,” said Devils forward Blake Coleman. “These are fun games to play in, and we’re fortunate to be in the position to play meaningful games.”
Keith Kinkaid has been the backbone of New Jersey’s final kick at the end of the regular season. He has started eight of the last nine games in goal, stepping up in the wake of injury and poor play of No. 1 netminder Cory Schneider to post a career-high 22 wins this season.
Kinkaid made 30 or more saves in each of his last eight starts since March 10.
“Keith has had our back down the stretch ,” said New Jersey’s leading scorer Taylor Hall.
The Devils are 2-0-1 against New York this season, with Kinkaid starting both of the team’s wins in the season series.
The Islanders are stumbling down the stretch, just 3-11-4 in their last 18 games following Friday’s 5-4 home-ice loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. One bright spot in the most recent defeat was that team captain John Tavares scored a power-play goal to reach 80 points for the third time in his career.
“You’d like the production to lead to some good results for the team,” Tavares told reporters Friday.
New York was without two of its key forwards against the Maple Leafs. Casey Cizikas and Josh Bailey both sat out with upper-body injuries. Cizikas is ruled out for Saturday’s contest while Bailey is a game-time decision.
In addition, the status of veteran goaltender Jaroslav Halak is unknown for the game in New Jersey. Halak was scratched due to an illness Friday and rookie Christopher Gibson started, while Thomas Greiss backed him up after being activated off injured reserve.
The Islanders are playing out the string after being eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week for the second season in a row.
“We are looking to play well and finish strong ,” said Islanders coach Doug Weight. “We are all professionals here.”