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Islanders-Bruins Preview

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The New York Islanders snapped their longest losing streak of the season their last time out.

Now, the Islanders will look to build on their first win in seven games when they visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.

The Islanders (20-19-3) opened the second half of their schedule Tuesday with a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers. Mike Sillinger scored twice for the Isles, who had not won since a 2-0 victory Dec. 26, also against the Rangers. The Islanders are 4-0 against their archrivals from Manhattan this season.

"Rather than a good first half, we could've had a great first half," said Rick DiPietro, who made 28 saves and snapped a personal five-game losing streak. "That's all in the past now. We got a big win."

Now the Islanders, who are wrapping up a four-game road trip, look to carry their success against the Rangers over to the rest of the NHL. They are 1-9-3 after victories over the Rangers, and 7-20-4-3 in their last 34 games following games against their biggest rival.

The Isles have won five straight against the Bruins, however, including a 4-1 victory Oct. 14 in the first meeting between the teams. Jason Blake scored two goals for New York in the victory.

In order to keep the streak against the Bruins alive, the Islanders may have to improve their power play. New York won Thursday despite going scoreless on three chances with the man advantage and have converted just two of their last 39 opportunities.

The Islanders have scored on just 15.1 percent (28-of-185) of their power-play chances this season, ranking them near the bottom of the league. Defenseman Brendan Witt, however, did score his first goal in 78 games during a delayed-penalty call Thursday.

"I think it's a big plus," Witt said. "Any way I can contribute offensively, I'll take."

The Bruins (20-17-3) have dropped four of their last five games, including Tuesday's 5-2 loss at Ottawa. The Senators recorded five unanswered goals in the final period against Boston, which has been outscored 28-9 in its last five games.

"We just stopped playing," Patrice Bergeron told the Bruins' official Web site. "You can't do that against a team like Ottawa."

The Bruins did get a boost from the return of Phil Kessel, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last month and played his first NHL game since having surgery Dec. 11 to remove a testicle.

"It felt good to play," Kessel said. "I was just excited to play tonight."

Kessel did not record a point in more than 10 minutes of ice time. The 19-year-old rookie has five goals and four assists in 28 games this season.

"He never said anything, and he finished the game," said coach Dave Lewis, who also noted that Kessel's quick return following surgery "says a lot about him."

Captain Zdeno Chara missed his second game with a lower body injury, and fellow defenseman Brad Stuart sat out for personal reasons.

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