|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
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
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