The New York Islanders have managed to grind out wins despite a struggling offense. Beating the Boston Bruins over the past few seasons has not been nearly as difficult.
The Islanders look to continue their dominance of the host Bruins when the teams meet for the first time this season in the opener of a home-and-home series on Friday afternoon.
The Islanders (11-7-0) have earned at least one point in their last 12 meetings with the Bruins (10-7-2), going 7-0-2 with three ties and a 38-26 scoring advantage.
New York hasn't scored more than three goals in any of its last eight games this season, but has picked up five wins over that span. The Islanders played in an NHL-record seven straight games decided by one goal before losing 4-1 at home to Montreal on Wednesday.
They went a season-worst 0-for-7 on the power play and are 1-for-20 with the man advantage in their last five games.
"We just didn't have it for whatever reason," coach Ted Nolan told the Islanders' official Web site. "We got out of the gate real slow. We weren't really sharp and the power play wasn't clicking. There are going to be days when it doesn't work."
New York has a good chance to break out of its slump on the power play against Boston, which has killed only 11 of 16 short-handed situations over its past three games.
The Islanders' offensive struggles have dropped them into last place in the Eastern Conference with 46 goals. The Bruins, meanwhile, have just 49 but they've scored at least four goals in three straight games.
Both teams are among the conference's leaders in goals allowed, with Boston giving up 48 and New York 49.
Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, a native of Winthrop, Mass., looks to bounce back after giving up more than three goals for third time this season Wednesday. He allowed a goal at the 56-second mark of the first period and the Canadiens scored three more times in the second.
"We gave them the first goal, and it took a while for us to wake up," Islanders forward Mike Sillinger said. "We didn't make them earn their goals, the first goal especially. I think we didn't complete as hard as we had in the past."
DiPietro is 5-2-1 with two ties and a 2.13 goals-against average in 10 career starts against the Bruins. He'll be trying to help the Islanders win three straight on the road for the first time since a four-game run from Oct. 11-Nov. 15, 2006.
The Bruins won for the third time in their last four games Tuesday, as Tuukka Rask stopped 30 of 32 shots in his NHL debut to beat Toronto 4-2. The Maple Leafs drafted Rask 21st overall in 2005, but traded him to Boston for fellow goaltender Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006.
"Of course, it means a lot (to win in Toronto)," Rask told the Bruins' official Web site after filling in for the injured Manny Fernandez. "It was fun to play and show them that I am good enough to play at this level."
Chuck Kobasew scored twice in the third period to help Boston overcome a 2-0 deficit.
The Bruins may turn to Rask again, as Tim Thomas is 1-3-0 with a 2.97 GAA in four starts against New York.
Former Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara has a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak.
These teams meet again Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum, where Boston has gone 0-4-1 with four ties since a 4-2 win on Dec. 22, 2001.