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Bruins try to continue dominance of Isles

by John Kreiser
BRUINS (38-20-9) at ISLANDERS (26-32-10)


Last 10 -- Boston 7-1-2; New York 5-2-3

Season series -- It's the third of four meetings. The Bruins won 5-2 at home on Dec. 9 and 6-3 at the Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 17.

Big story -- It's been a tough week for the Bruins, who come to Long Island for their third game in four nights after Thursday's 4-3 OT loss and have dropped five points behind Philadelphia in the race for the top seed in the East. The Islanders lost 20 of 21 from late October through mid-December, but have been a different team since then -- they are 21-14-5 since Dec. 15 and have been among the NHL's highest-scoring teams since the All-Star break.

Team Scope:

Bruins -- The Bruins have gone from winning eight in a row to losing their last three, although two have come after regulation. Thursday's 4-3 OT loss to Buffalo at home was a disappointment -- the B's led 2-0 and 3-2 but couldn't put the pesky Sabres away.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara, who was not suspended by the NHL for his hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty earlier in the week, got plenty of support from the home crowd.

"It's something I very much appreciate," the former Islander said. "I don't see any reason to change my game or my style of play. I'm going to continue to play physical and play hard."

Islanders -- The Isles could make this a superb five-game homestand by finishing it off with a win against the Bruins. New York has three wins and a shootout loss to New Jersey, and the Isles are within 12 points of a playoff berth. But they face a tough back-to-back, with Boston at home and New Jersey on the road on Saturday.

"Boston has been one of the best teams in the NHL all year and New Jersey has had the best record in the league since Christmas," forward Matt Martin told the team's website. "It's going to be a good test for us, but we've been playing really good hockey and hopefully we can come away with a couple wins."

Who's hot -- Boston's Nathan Horton had a goal on Thursday and has points in six of his last seven games. … Isles forward Blake Comeau has 4 goals in New York's last four games.

Injury report -- Boston is without defenseman Andrew Ference (lower body). Center Marc Savard (concussion) is gone for the season. … Two of the many injured Islanders, center Doug Weight and goaltender Rick DiPietro, practiced this week but are not ready to return. Defenseman Radek Martinek (lower body) returned Tuesday.

Stat pack -- Boston is 5-0-1 in its last six visits to the Nassau Coliseum and has won 10 of the last 12 against the Isles.

Puck drop -- The Islanders have quietly been one of the NHL's best teams since the All-Star break. But they have lost all 10 games against the three division leaders in the East, so Friday's game should be a good measuring stick.

"It's going to be a good test for our hockey club Friday night," Martin said of facing the Bruins. "Hopefully we come away with two points."

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