Bruins-Islanders Preview

The Boston Bruins have few complaints about their early results,

but they’ve also played fewer games than any other NHL team.

With a much busier stretch just starting, the Bruins try to

finish a five-game road trip with a fourth consecutive victory

Tuesday night against the New York Islanders.

In part because of a postponement due to a blizzard, Boston

(11-2-2) enters this contest with two games in hand on every other

club. The Bruins have the best winning percentage in the Eastern

Conference, but they don’t lead the Northeast Division in

points.

They hope to change that soon, and they’ll certainly have the

opportunity. The Bruins had two consecutive days off before beating

Florida 4-1 on Sunday, but they won’t have that luxury again until

March 28 and 29.

In between is a stretch of 18 games in 32 days.

“We’re aware of the coming-up schedule,” captain Zdeno Chara

said. “That’s probably the last chance we were able to kind of

relax for a few days, and now we’re going to have a really busy

schedule catching up.”

Chara scored against the Panthers on a backhand after a spinning

rush from the blue line, and Milan Lucic and Chris Kelly also got

goals before Daniel Paille’s empty-netter. Kelly scored his first

of the year and also gave Boston’s previously struggling power play

its third goal in its last four chances.

“It was a long time coming, and hopefully it’s a sign of good

things to come,” Kelly said.

Good things have been happening for the Bruins on the penalty

kill all season, with the league’s best unit going 19 for 19 in the

last six games.

The team has also found success on the road, going 7-1-1, and

against the Islanders lately. Boston has won 15 of 19 meetings and

has outscored New York 36-19 during a 7-1-1 stretch at Nassau

Coliseum.

The Bruins scored 12 goals in two visits last season, and they

beat the Islanders 4-2 at home Jan. 25 behind third-period tallies

from Chara and Patrice Bergeron.

New York (8-10-1) has struggled to stop many opponents this

season, ranking among the worst in the league with 64 goals

allowed.

Goalie Kevin Poulin made his season debut Sunday following Rick

DiPietro’s demotion to the minors but the Islanders lost for the

sixth time in seven home games, 4-2 to Carolina to begin a

seven-game homestand. Poulin turned aside 14 shots in the first

period as New York took a 2-0 lead, but the Hurricanes scored four

goals in the game’s final 22 minutes.

“I don’t know why we play differently at home,” coach Jack

Capuano said. “I can’t understand why we were so flat in the third

period.”

John Tavares and Matt Moulson continue to carry the Islanders

offensively, each getting a goal and an assist Sunday. Moulson has

three straight two-point games while Tavares has scored nine goals

in his last 10 contests, putting him in a tie for the NHL lead with

13.

Despite the team’s struggles in the series and the presence of

Chara on the ice, Tavares and Moulson have combined for 26 points

while each playing 13 career games against Boston.

Chara, drafted by the Islanders in 1996, has 12 points in the

last 10 meetings.