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Bruins start six-game trip on Long Island

by John Kreiser /
BRUINS (31-19-7) at ISLANDERS (21-29-7)


Last 10 -- Boston 5-5-0; New York 6-4-0

Season series -- It's only the second meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference rivals. Boston won 5-2 at TD Garden on Dec. 9 in a game that was 3-2 before the Bruins cored twice into an empty net.

Big story -- As they head out for a six-game trip, the Bruins have seen their lead in the Northeast Division melt away -- the Montreal Canadiens pulled even on Tuesday by getting a point in a shootout loss to Buffalo while the Bruins were blowing a third-period lead in a 4-3 home loss to Toronto. They'll be facing a Islander team bears little resemblance to the train wreck that came to Boston three months ago in the midst of losing 20 of 21 games. These Islanders have won a season-high four in a row, including Tuesday's 4-3 shootout win at Ottawa.

Team Scope:

Bruins -- If the Bruins want to finish first in the Northeast, they can't afford games like Tuesday's, in which they led 3-2 with less than seven minutes left in regulation, only to allow goals by Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski as Toronto left TD Garden with a 4-3 win.

A long trip might be just what the B's need -- they are just 15-12-3 at TD Garden, but are 16-7-4 away from home.

"I think it's important to take a step back and look at what we need to rectify," coach Claude Julien told the team's website. "Obviously, we have quite a few games coming up and haven't had the opportunity to practice as well as we have."

Islanders -- The Isles aren't going to make the playoffs, but they're no longer the pushovers they were the last time they saw the Bruins. They sandwiched wins at Montreal and Buffalo around Friday's 9-3 home wipeout of Pittsburgh before the shootout win against the Senators on Tuesday.

"That's another big step for us because we did not have our best game and we found a way to get two points," forward Kyle Okposo said.

Who's hot -- Boston goaltender Tim Thomas is 6-0-1 with a 1.57 goals-against average in his last seven game against the Islanders. … No one in the NHL has been hotter than Isles rookie forward Michael Grabner, who extended his goal-scoring streak to six games by scoring shorthanded in Ottawa. Grabner has 10 goals during that span and leads all rookies with 25.

Injury report -- Boston center Marc Savard (concussion) is out for the season. … The Isles are without suspended forwards Matt Martin and Trevor Gillies. Jeremy Colliton (ribs) is at least a week away from returning. Goalie Rick DiPietro (facial fractures) won't be back for another month at best, and seven other regulars are gone for the season.

Stat pack -- Boston has killed off just 13 of the opposition's last 22 power plays in the past five games. … The Islanders haven't won more than four in a row since February 2008, when they won six straight.

Puck drop -- The Islanders will see forward Chris Kelly for the second game in a row, but he'll be in a different uniform. Kelly played for Ottawa against the Isles on Tuesday, then was traded to Boston after the game for a second-round pick.

In his career, Kelly has appeared in 462 NHL games, all with Ottawa, with 75-101-176 totals.

"He brings a real responsible game," GM Peter Chiarelli said. "It doesn't mean that he's defense first because he's good on the forecheck. He's [also] got an element of energy to his game and hockey sense, so he combines both those things well."

Kelly had 2 goals and 5 points in four games against the Isles, and will see New York three times as a Bruin.

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