Bruins-Islanders Preview

The Boston Bruins’ pursuit of the Eastern Conference’s top seed

took a hit in their most recent contest, but their captain remains

on the ice.

Zdeno Chara and Boston look to defeat the New York Islanders for

the third time this season Friday night at Nassau Coliseum.

Chara, whose hard check severely concussed and cracked a

vertebra of Montreal forward Max Pacioretty on Tuesday, had two

assists in the Bruins’ 3-2 overtime loss Thursday against Buffalo.

While Montreal police have launched a criminal investigation of the

Pacioretty incident, the NHL did not give Chara a fine or

suspension.

The home crowd supported him with loud cheers against the

Sabres.

“It’s something I very much appreciate,” Chara said. “I don’t

see any reason to change my game or my style of play. I’m going to

continue to play physical and play hard.”

The 6-foot-9 former Norris Trophy winner will continue to play,

and Boston may need him in order to catch East-leading Philadelphia

for the conference’s No. 1 seed with 14 games remaining. The

third-place Bruins are six points behind the Flyers.

Coach Claude Julien said Chara has handled the situation

well.

“Obviously, his state of mind is not at best, which is normal,”

Julien said. “You understand what’s going on. It’s not easy but,

like I said, I thought he handled himself well (Thursday).”

Gregory Campbell, Nathan Horton and Mark Recchi scored for

Boston (38-20-9) in Thursday’s loss. Horton has a point in six of

seven games.

The Bruins have defeated the Islanders (26-32-10) twice this

season, three straight times overall and in 10 of the last 12

meetings. They’re also 5-0-1 in their last six trips to Long

Island.

Chara has three assists in this season’s series, including one

in Boston’s 6-3 victory on Long Island on Feb. 17. Milan Lucic has

three goals and an assist versus the Isles this season.

New York has been playing better lately, improving to 3-0-2 in

its last five games after a 4-3 overtime win Tuesday against

Toronto. Blake Comeau, who had two assists in last month’s loss to

the Bruins, scored his fourth goal in as many games to beat the

Maple Leafs with 57.3 seconds remaining in overtime.

The playoffs are an extremely remote possibility for the

Islanders, who trail the eighth-place New York Rangers by 12 points

with 14 games to play. They would also need to leapfrog five

teams.

“We’re not out of it yet,” Comeau said. “As long as we keep

winning, crazier things have happened.”

Al Montoya made 24 saves in Tuesday’s win. He came on in relief

of Nathan Lawson against the Bruins in February, stopping 15 of 16

shots in 37 minutes.

John Tavares scored twice in that meeting, giving him four goals

and two assists in six career games against Boston.