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Islanders try to build off comeback as they face Bruins

by Pete Jensen

ISLANDERS (12-21-7) at BRUINS (26-11-2)


Last 10: New York 4-4-2; Boston 7-3-0

Season series: This marks the second of three games between the teams. Thomas Vanek scored his first goal as a member of the New York Islanders on Nov. 2 in a 3-1 victory against the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Big story: The Bruins look to end a memorable 2013 on a high note as they host the Islanders on New Year's Eve. Boston, the defending Eastern Conference champion, sits second in the East with 54 points. The Islanders have not won consecutive games since last facing the Bruins in early November.

Team Scope:

Islanders: For much of New York's disappointing season, the team has lacked urgency. That changed Sunday when the Islanders pulled off their biggest comeback in nearly 20 years.

New York trailed 3-0 on the road against the Minnesota Wild but roared back for a 5-4 victory. It was the Islanders' first win when trailing by three goals since March 22, 1994. The win marked the Islanders' third in five games, but the team remains 11 points out of a playoff spot. That said, the turn of events in Minnesota served as a spark as New York hits the season's midway point Tuesday in Boston.

"We didn't lose our mindset [against the Wild]," Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald told Newsday after the game. "We felt like we could come back if we started moving our feet and playing smart. We did that."

Bruins: Boston, depleted by injury, had a much-needed two days off between games. After seeing its three-game win streak snapped in the back end of a home-and-home with the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, the team welcomed a few injured players onto the ice Monday.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara, who was sidelined Saturday with an undisclosed injury, took part in practice and expects to play Tuesday. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton (lower body) practiced with the team for the first time since his injury earlier this month. Forward Loui Eriksson (concussion) skated lightly prior to practice.

Progress on the injury front is timely for a Bruins team that lost defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (knee) for the season this past weekend. But while the team will miss its stalwart defenseman on the ice and in the locker room, the players know they still have a chance to accomplish great things.

"We're certainly going to miss [Seidenberg], but there's nobody discouraged in that room," coach Claude Julien told the team's website. "I go back to my first year when we lost [Patrice] Bergeron for the whole year and we just rallied around that and worked that much harder."

Who's hot: Islanders forward Kyle Okposo has at least a point in eight of his past nine games, including four goals and four assists during a six-game point streak. … Bruins forwards Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla each have four-game point streaks.

Injury report: New York captain John Tavares (lower body) returned to the lineup Sunday and kick-started New York's rally with a goal. Defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Radek Martinek (back) remain on injured reserve. Forwards Michael Grabner (illness) and Josh Bailey (upper body) are questionable for Tuesday. … Chara is expected to play for Boston. Hamilton, Eriksson and forward Carl Soderberg (upper body) have been ruled out. Forward Chris Kelly (ankle) remains on IR.

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