BRUINS (28-23-11) at ISLANDERS (26-30-8)
Last 10 --
Boston 5-2-3; New York 3-7-0
Season series --
It's the fourth and final meeting of the season. The Islanders won two of the first three, losing 4-3 in a shootout at Boston on Oct. 10, but winning 4-1 at TD Garden on Nov. 16 and 3-2 in overtime at the Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 12.
Big story --
The Bruins are riding a surge of five wins in their last six games that has moved them back into the top eight in the East. Most of that surge has come away from home -- the B's 3-2 shootout win over Toronto on Thursday was their first win in Boston since the Winter Classic at Fenway Park on Jan. 1. They swept a four-game trip before the Olympic break and hope to continue their success away from home in the opener of a seven-game trip. The Islanders are 3-2-0 in their last five home games but 3-10-0 in their last 13 overall and have dropped to 13th in the East.
Thursday's win did more than break a 10-game losing streak at home. It showed that reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas
can still win. Thomas, who's been supplanted as the starter by rookie Tuukka Rask
, got the start and made 24 saves through 65 minutes, then stopped all three Toronto shootout tries.
"I was trying to show the team they can have some confidence in me again," Thomas said after his first win since Jan. 14. "I'm not going to lie: This feels really good right now. It's the first one I've had in a long time, and it's the first one at home in a long time."
The Isles had more turnovers than a bakery in Atlanta on Thursday, giving pucks away all night on the way to a 6-3 loss in a game that saw them outshoot the Thrashers 37-22. Four of the goals came in the first period, when the Islanders trailed 4-1 despite outshooting the Thrashers 21-10.
"In that first period, it felt like everything they shot went in," coach Scott Gordon said.
Who's hot --
With a League-low 2.32 goals per game, the Bruins haven't had many hot scorers all season. … Isles forward Blake Comeau
has five goals in his last three games, including a hat trick against Chicago on Tuesday.
Injury report --
Rask is day-to-day with a knee injury, meaning that Thomas could start consecutive games. Forward Patrice Bergeron
and defenseman Andrew Ference
both missed Thursday's game with groin injuries. … The Islanders are without defenseman Andy MacDonald, who's likely to miss the rest of the season with a broken foot sustained on Tuesday, and forward Trent Hunter, out for a week or two with an upper-body injury. Rick DiPietro
is on IR with a swollen knee, though GM Garth Snow says the oft-injured goaltender is expected to play again this season.
Stat pack --
Bergeron tops the Bruins with 37 points, the fewest of any team leader. … The Islanders have scored 16 goals in their last four games, but they're still 27th in the NHL with 2.50 goals per game.
Puck drop --
This is the kind of game the Bruins have to win -- they've already lost twice to a team that's all but certain to miss the playoffs. The Isles have been competitive at home, but the Bruins should be able to use their size advantage, especially against the Isles' very undersized defense, to get enough goals to win.