|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, February 5, 2019
TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts Attendance: 17,565
Red-hot Islanders take aim at Bruins
New York Islanders at Boston Bruins
- The Bruins beat the Islanders, 2-1, in a shootout when these teams first met on November 29 this season. Boston has won 10 of the last 12 in this series dating back to January 2015, and has gone 20-8-0 against the Islanders since March 2010.
- The Bruins beat the Capitals, 1-0, on Sunday. It was their fifth time shutting out an opponent this season -- only the Golden Knights and today's opponent, the Islanders, have done so more times (six each).
- The Islanders beat the Kings, 4-2, on Sunday despite trailing, 2-1, in the third period. They have earned points in eight straight, tied with the Flyers for the longest active streak in the NHL, and their 9-2-2 (.769) mark since the New Year trails only the Flames (10-2-1, .808) for the NHL's best record.
- Patrice Bergeron will play his 1000th career game tonight, all as a Boston Bruin, and he has totaled 305 goals and 473 assists. The only active player to have played 1000 games with any franchise and met Bergeron's goal and assist totals is Alex Ovechkin for the Capitals.
- Ryan Pulock assisted on all three Islanders' goals in the third period in the team's last game. He became the ninth defenseman in the NHL to have multiple three-assist games this season (his first was October 30), and the teams of those nine defensemen are 22-0-0 in those games.
- Mathew Barzal scored a third-period goal for the Islanders last time out, despite that game being his lowest TOI of the season (14:15). He assisted on the lone Islanders' goal in these teams' first meeting this season, and has three assists, but no goals, in four career games against the Bruins.
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Few could have imagined last summer that a February meeting between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins could serve as a potential playoff preview. But the two teams may be sizing each other up for postseason series on Tuesday night, when the Islanders visit the Bruins.
Both teams ended losing streaks in their most recent games. The Islanders snapped a two-game skid by coming back from a third-period deficit to beat the visiting Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Saturday night. The Bruins broke a three-game drought Sunday when David Krejci scored the only goal in the second period of a 1-0 win over the host Washington Capitals.
The results kept the Islanders and Bruins on pace to cross over from their respective divisions and meet each other in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. New York leads the Metropolitan Division but would be slotted into the second seed because it has fewer points than the Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston, which is in fourth place in the Atlantic Division, occupies the first wild card and would face the division winner with the worse record.
It's no surprise the Bruins, who have made the playoffs the last two seasons and won the 2011 Stanley Cup during a run of seven straight postseason appearances, are in position to return to the tournament. But the success of the Islanders, who missed the playoffs by 17 points last year and then lost captain John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs, might be the most unexpected story in the NHL.
With each win, though, the Islanders are proving to be legitimate contenders. New York scored three goals in the final 6:14 Saturday night to improve to 16-3-2 since Dec. 15.
"I don't know if there's an underdog feel -- every night, you have to prove yourself," Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said following Saturday's game. "I'll tell you this: If you don't show up to work in this business, you're not going to have success. Luck really doesn't follow you in this league a whole lot. It might follow you for a game or two, but it's not going to follow you for a season."
Good fortune has been in short supply lately for the Bruins, who are 3-3-3 in their last nine games, a stretch in which they've suffered five one-goal losses and fallen in overtime or shootout three times. But Boston finally had something go right Sunday against the Capitals, who had won the last 14 games between the teams.
"Eventually, you stay in the game and play the right way, it's going to go your way -- tonight it did," Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Sunday. "We didn't steal it. It was a well-earned win."
A pair of No. 1 goalies are likely to oppose each other Tuesday night.
Cassidy said Monday that Tuukka Rask will start for the Bruins in the opener of a back-to-back set. Former Islanders netminder Jaroslav Halak will start when Boston faces the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Rask enjoyed a historic afternoon Sunday, when he stopped all 24 shots he faced to earn the win -- his franchise-record 253rd for the Bruins, breaking a tie with Tiny Thompson (1928-39).
With the Islanders off both Sunday and Monday, Robin Lehner should get the start. Lehner, who was named the NHL's second star of the month for January, recorded the victory Saturday, when he made 34 saves.
Rask is 13-5-0 in 19 career appearances against the Islanders. Lehner is 4-11-4 in 20 games against the Bruins.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 4, 2019