BRUINS (45-28-4) at ISLANDERS (33-33-11)
TV: NESN (HD), MSG PLUS (HD)
Last 10 : Boston 5-4-1, New York 5-3-2
Season Series: They meet one last time, and the Islanders have a chance to even the series. They caught the Bruins at their November peak twice, getting hammered 6-2 and 6-0, but got one back with a 3-2 win at TD Garden on March 2.
Big Story: Based on that November performance and all the way into January, an early clinch for the Bruins would have been a safe bet. Thanks to a 3-2 shootout loss the Capitals on Thursday, they went into Friday's action still needing one more point to lock down a playoff spot and still more work to do to hold off Ottawa and even Buffalo, neither of which has been eliminated from Northeast Division contention. The Islanders at this point still have the absolute slimmest of playoff hopes -- they are nine points behind the Sabres and Capitals with five games to go. So both teams find themselves looking at Friday's Penguins-Sabres game with the same results in mind. If Buffalo loses in regulation, the Bruins are in, if they get a point, the Islanders are out.
Bruins: The luck of the Irish has been with the Bruins lately, especially since their turnaround started on St. Patrick's Day, a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers followed by four more wins in the next six games. Even the loss on Thursday had an upside as they were trailing the Caps 2-0 with 3:10 remaining. David Krejci and Andrew Ference forced overtime but Brooks Laich had the last word in the shootout.
"It was good to come back, for sure. It was somewhat of a playoff-type game," Ference said. "They were obviously desperate to get points and it showed."
"You got to be satisfied with the effort," defenseman Joe Corvo said. "It shows character to battle back and score two goals late and get a point."
Islanders: It is indeed a rare occurrence when the Islanders score 10 goals in two games and not one point comes from the top line of John Tavares, P.A. Parenteau and Matt Moulson. They account for 42.6 percent of the team's goals this season, which is one reason why their 190 goals scored puts them dead last in the Eastern Conference and a very important reason the Islanders will miss the playoffs for a fifth straight season.
So when Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo talk about their recent success on the ice, they're quick to qualify it with the overall disappointment of the season. Okposo scored his 20th goal and his fifth in four games in Thursday's 5-3 home win against Pittsburgh, but to him it's too little, too late.
"It doesn't matter if I get 20 or 20-plus goals, this has been a frustrating season," Okposo told Newsday. "Johnny's had a great year, his line has been great and we could have taken some heat off them by scoring more. It's nice to get to 20 goals, but it's still frustrating."
Who's Hot: Captain Zdeno Chara has points in five of his last six games. Krejci has five points in his last four. .. Bailey has eight points in his last two games and is 7-10-17 in his last 15 games after recording six goals and 14 points in his first 60. Frans Nielsen has a four-game points streak with three goals and four assists.
Injury Report: Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid will not make the trip to Long Island; the Bruins will give the cut over the left eye he received from a Jason Chimera drive into the boards on Thursday time to heal. Dennis Seidenberg's cut from Tim Thomas' skate in last Saturday's game against the Kings is progressing well. Tuukka Rask (groin), who went down in the Bruins' last meeting with the Islanders, hopes to play before the regular season ends and is practicing. Nathan Horton (concussion) is not yet cleared to step out on the ice. … Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov (lower body) is also hoping to get back in action before the end of the season.
Stat Pack: Thomas is 9-3-1 with a 1.69 goals-against average and a shutout in his last 13 games against the Isles. Bailey's five-point game Thursday was the first by an Islander at home since Niklas Andersson on Dec. 10, 1996, an 8-2 win over the Coyotes. The line of Bailey, Nielsen and Okposo has combined for eight points in each of the last two games.
Puck Drop: "We can't be thinking, 'all we need is two points here to get in the playoffs.' The goal of our team is much bigger and higher than that. We have to play desperate hockey right to the end now and be ready for the playoffs." -- Chara in the Boston Globe on the need to clinch a playoff berth
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