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Bruins battle Isles, aim to draw closer in Northeast

by Brian Hunter /
ISLANDERS (5-15-5) at BRUINS (15-8-3)


Last 10:
New York 1-6-3; Boston 5-3-2

Season series: First of four meetings this season. The teams split their games on the 2009-10 schedule, with each winning a game that went beyond regulation -- Marc Savard's shootout goal gave the Bruins a 4-3 victory on Oct. 10, while Frans Nielsen scored 24 seconds into overtime as the Islanders won 3-2 on Dec. 12. New York's Matt Moulson led all scorers with 4 goals and Dwayne Roloson posted a 2-1-1 record in goal.

Big story: These teams are trying to close very different gaps. The Bruins find themselves five points behind the Canadiens for first place in the Northeast Division, while the Islanders, having lost 17 of their last 18 games, are last in both the Atlantic and overall NHL standings, but could close to within one point of the Devils with a win Thursday.
Team Scope:

Ever since a 5-1 loss to Los Angeles at the end of a California road trip cost Scott Gordon his job, New York has been playing tight, competitive games under interim coach Jack Capuano. While he's 1-5-2 since taking over, the Islanders have only been outscored by 11 goals combined over the seven losses. It's still frustrating, though, especially in situations like Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Flyers in which the Isles rallied for a pair of third-period goals to take a 2-1 lead, only to give it right back.

"They've got to find a way to win," Capuano said. "That's what we're talking about. Mentally, it's probably draining on them. It's tough on them, but you know what, they're professionals. They play in the best League in the world, and they have to figure it out."

Bruins: Even though Boston played three minutes of overtime against Buffalo on Tuesday, only the first 2:11 ended up counting. That's because Mark Recchi tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot past Sabres goalie Ryan Miller during a Bruins' power play, but the puck went in and came back out of the net so fast that the official originally signaled no goal. It took another 49 seconds for the next play stoppage and subsequent video review which told the truth and gave the home team a 3-2 victory.

"I knew right away it was in, but then you've got to keep playing because you just don't know," Recchi said. "It went in the net, that's all that matters."

Who's hot:
Frans Nielsen has 1 goal and 5 assists in his last six games for the Islanders. … Tim Thomas is 3-0-1 in his last four starts for the Bruins, allowing a total of five non-shootout goals during that span. Milan Lucic has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last five games. Nathan Horton has 2 goals and 2 assists in his last three games.

Injury report:
New York forward Doug Weight (back spasms) and defenseman Bruno Gervais (broken cheekbone) are day-to-day, while defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Milan Jurcina (hamstring) and Mike Mottau (eye) and forwards Kyle Okposo (shoulder) and Trent Hunter (torn MCL) are on injured reserve. … Boston defenseman Mark Stuart didn't return to Tuesday's game after the first period for undisclosed reasons. The team is still waiting to activate forward Marco Sturm from injured reserve, where he remains along with forward Trent Whitfield (Achilles).

Stat pack: The Islanders will be looking to break an 0-for-36 slump on the power play that spans their last 11 games. … Lucic's goal was his 13th of the season, just four shy of the career-high 17 he scored in 72 games for the Bruins two seasons ago. Lucic was limited to 9 goals in 50 games last season.

Puck drop: Nielsen, who scored 36 seconds after Jon Sim to give New York its short-lived lead on Sunday, knows the team needs more consistent, 60-minute efforts if it wants to get back on the right track.

"You can see that when [Philadelphia] got the first goal, it was tough on the bench, but when we got the second one guys were really flying out there," he said. "But unfortunately, they got that power-play goal and we fell down a little bit again. That can't happen."

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