After starting the season with a four-game West Coast road trip, the New York Islanders return home Saturday looking to build on their first win of the season when they face the Boston Bruins.
The Islanders (1-3-0) outlasted the Anaheim Ducks in a six-round shootout, when Mike Dunham made five saves and Mike York scored the deciding goal in a 5-4 victory Wednesday.
Despite winning and making 46 saves, Dunham is expected to return to his role as backup behind Rick DiPietro on Saturday as the Islanders try to win their home opener for a third straight season.
DiPietro, who signed a record 15-year deal worth $67.5 million during the offseason, started each of the team's first three games and lost them all as he posted a 4.54 goals-against average. He hopes to fare better against the Bruins, having gone 3-0 with a 2.00 GAA in three starts against them last season.
New York, though, continues to be awful on special teams. The Islanders are 2-for-22 with the man advantage, and have given up two power-play goals in each of their four games. Their opponents have totaled 35 power-play opportunities.
"That's part of the new NHL and you have to try to kill penalties better," Dunham said. "But at the same time, you have to limit the power plays because that's where teams get a lot of momentum and get a lot of their shots."
Leading New York with 18 shots is Alexei Yashin, who along with DiPietro is hoping to help rejuvenate this struggling franchise. Yashin, who has two goals and one assist, was signed to a 10-year, $87.5 million deal when the Islanders acquired him from the Ottawa Senators at the 2001 NHL draft.
In that trade, the Islanders sent defenseman Zdeno Chara to Ottawa along with two other players. Five years later, Chara was one of the most highly sought-after free agents of this past offseason and was signed by Boston (1-2-1).
The 6-foot-9 Chara is off to a strong start with his new team, collecting five assists in four games. He has six goals and six assists in 15 games against the Islanders, and has eight points in seven games as a visiting player at Nassau Coliseum.
The Bruins hope he can continue his success against his former club as Boston finishes a five-game season-opening road trip. They lost all four meetings with the Isles last season, and have not won in seven trips to Nassau Coliseum since Dec. 22, 2001.
Boston lost 3-2 in a shootout at St. Louis on Thursday, when Tim Thomas allowed two goals in a 1:30 span of the third period, including the game-tying score with 1:27 to play.
"As a group, I thought we played textbook hockey for 55 minutes," Bruins coach Dave Lewis said. "I thought we were in control of the whole game, except until the end."
Despite the late breakdown and losing the shootout, Thomas finished with 33 saves and played much bettter than he did in his other start this season. He was pulled in the third period after allowing seven goals on 34 shots in an 8-3 season-opening loss to Florida.
"I felt pretty good," Thomas said after Thursday's loss. "It took a lot of chances for them to break the seal."
Thomas is splitting time with 22-year-old Hannu Toivonen, who is 1-1 with a 3.19 GAA in three games - two starts.
While Thomas has lost his only two career starts versus the Islanders, Toivonen lost the only time he faced them.