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Bruins host Isles in playoff tuneup

by Corey Masisak
ISLANDERS (30-37-12) at BRUINS (44-24-11)


-- New York 3-5-2; Boston 5-3-2

Season series -- Boston has won two of the first three meetings, including a 5-2 victory on Dec. 9 in the Isles' last trip to TD Garden. New York prevailed in the most recent meeting, winning 4-2 on March 11.

Big picture -- The Bruins need a win to keep their chances of improving from the third seed in the Eastern Conference alive while the Islanders could take a step toward avoiding a last-place finish in the East with a win.

Team Scope:

Islanders -- New York has lost four of five games, but the one win was a thorough 6-2 beating of the rival New York Rangers last Thursday. The Islanders have had injury problems all season, and center Frans Nielsen's concussion is the latest season-ending ailment for the team. Nielsen leads the NHL in shorthanded goals with seven.

John Tavares is two goals shy of 30, which would give the Islanders three players with at least that many. No NHL team has three 30-goal scorers this season, but the Islanders are close, as are the Maple Leafs (Mikhail Grabovski has 29) and the Ducks (Teemu Selanne has 28) each need one more player to reach the benchmark as well.

Bruins -- Boston's chances of claiming the No. 1 spot in the East all but disappeared Monday night when they coughed up a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in a 5-3 loss. Goaltender Tim Thomas has been stout this season but he allowed four goals in less than 26 minutes -- including a pair 51 seconds apart late in the third period.

The Bruins had won five of seven before the collapse, including shutouts of Montreal and Chicago and a win in Philadelphia. There are no more games against playoff teams, so the Bruins will be trying to fine tune for a postseason run and could rest some key players if coach Claude Julien so desires.

Who's hot -- Tavares and PA Parenteau have nine points each in the past 11 games for the Islanders.

Injury report -- Nielsen and defenseman Milan Jurcina (hip) join a long list of Islanders who won't be back until the fall. Also not available are defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip), Andrew MacDonald (hip) and Mike Mottau (hip), forwards Doug Weight (back) and Trent Hunter (knee) and goaltender Kevin Poulin (knee).

Boston will be without center Marc Savard (concussion) while tough guy Shawn Thornton missed the game against the Rangers because of a cut on his forehead that needed 40 stitches.

Stat pack -- Should Tavares reach 30 goals, the Islanders would equal the number of players who have reached that figure for the franchise since the start of the 2002-03 season (Miroslav Satan in 2005-06, Jason Blake in 2006-07 and Matt Moulson last year). New York hasn't had three 30-goal scorers since the 1993-94 season, when it had four.

Puck drop -- Thomas could be on the way to having a season for the record books. The best save percentage for a goaltender since the stat was added 27 years year belongs to Dominik Hasek, who had a .9366 mark in 1998-99. Thomas enters the game at .9376.

Al Montoya has been a great story of his own for the Islanders. He is 9-5-4 in 19 games played; with one more effective game he could post the best save percentage by any Islander who appeared in at least 20 contests. The mark is held by Rick DiPietro, who posted a .919 percentage in 2006-07. Montoya currently has a .921 save percentage.
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