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New York Islanders vs. Boston Bruins @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Islanders (24-20-5-1) at Boston Bruins (22-14-11-4).

TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Boston Bruins have their captain back in the lineup. The New York Islanders are still waiting for theirs.

New York will likely be without captain Michael Peca for a third straight game when the Islanders complete a home-and-home series against Joe Thornton and the Boston Bruins at the FleetCenter.

These teams played to a 2-2 tie at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.

Trent Hunter continued his outstanding rookie season with two goals for the Islanders, but P.J. Axelsson's goal with 1:57 left in regulation salvaged a point for the Bruins.

``It's very disappointing,'' Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro said. ``It's a point we let slip away against a team we're chasing in the standings.''

Thornton, the team leader with 34 assists and 45 points, returned to Boston's lineup after missing three games with a fractured cheekbone. Thornton, wearing a cage to protect his face, assisted on Glen Murray's first-period goal.

``He looked to me like he really didn't miss a beat,'' Bruins coach Mike Sullivan said. ``For having some time off, I thought he had a pretty solid game for us.''

Thornton was injured Jan. 10 in a fight with Eric Lindros of the New York Rangers.

``It was fine. The cage kind of saved my face from two high sticks so I was kind of lucky I had it tonight,'' Thornton said.

Peca was scratched for the second consecutive game Tuesday because of a chest muscle injury.

Peca's injury is particularly damaging because the Islanders are already missing top center Alexei Yashin and forward Mark Parrish, who are both expected to be out until March.

The Islanders have played well despite the absence of three of their best players, going 4-1-2 to pull within two points of Montreal for seventh in the Eastern Conference.

DiPietro, unbeaten in a career-best five straight games (4-0-1), figures to make his fourth consecutive start Thursday. During his unbeaten streak, DiPietro has allowed eight goals on 150 shots for a .947 save percentage.

Boston, sixth in the East playoff standings, is 0-2-1 after losing just one of its previous 10 games (8-1-1).

Felix Potvin started against his former team Tuesday, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Rookie Andrew Raycroft could be back in net for Boston on Thursday after losing his past two starts.

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