Islanders-Bruins Preview

It’s been well over a month since the Boston Bruins lost at

home. That run wouldn’t seem likely to end against the last-place

New York Islanders, but they’ve been very good on the road

lately.

Winning a ninth straight home game will be a bit easier for the

Bruins if captain Zdeno Chara returns to the lineup Tuesday night

against an Islanders team seeking rare back-to-back victories.

Chara helped the Bruins (26-11-2) to a 5-0 win over Ottawa on

Friday, their eighth straight home victory which improved them to

13-0-2 at TD Garden since a 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Oct. 26.

The standout defenseman, however, sat out the back end of that

home-and-home series the next night with a lower-body injury.

He took part in practice Monday and could return Tuesday, which

would be a huge boost for a Bruins team already missing defensemen

Dougie Hamilton (lower body) and Dennis Seidenberg (knee) and

forward Loui Eriksson (concussion).

“He’s progressing and we’ll make a decision depending on how he

is tomorrow,” coach Claude Julien said.

Chara’s absence was evident Saturday as Boston lost 4-3 to snap

a three-game win streak. Tuukka Rask was pulled 29 seconds into the

second period after allowing three goals on 12 shots. He had

surrendered three goals in his previous four games, posting a .976

save percentage.

”Our guys battled hard,” Julien said. ”It would have been

nice to come out of here with at least a point. I thought we

deserved that much with how hard we competed to get ourselves back

in the game, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”

Saturday also marked the end of Boston having a player score two

goals for seven straight games, matching a team record set in

1929.

The Bruins, who won 14 in a row at home in 2008-09, have

outscored opponents 11-1 in their last three games there.

Rask is 10-0-2 with a 1.31 goals-against average in his last 12

starts at TD Garden.

David Krejci has four goals and seven assists during an

eight-game home point streak, while Reilly Smith has scored twice

in each of the last two in Boston.

While the Islanders (12-21-7) rank near the bottom of the

league’s overall standings, they enter this matchup a confident

group after erasing a three-goal deficit for their third straight

road win, 5-4 over Minnesota on Sunday.

Kyle Okposo scored twice in a three-goal third period as New

York rallied to win after trailing by at least three for the first

time since March 22, 1994.

”We just kept chipping away and kept chipping away,” said

Okposo, who has six goals and 11 points in the last nine games.

”We were down 3-0, and kind of regrouped. We decided to go after

them and start moving our feet.

”For the first 22 minutes we weren’t doing that, so we decided

to get pucks deep and go to the net.”

Sunday’s comeback gives the Islanders a chance to win two

straight for only the second time and first since Nov. 1-2.

Evgeni Nabokov is likely to be back in net Tuesday after Kevin

Poulin faced the Wild. Nabokov is 2-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA in six

games since missing nearly a month with a groin injury.

Okposo matched a career high with three assists in the

Islanders’ 3-1 home victory over the Bruins on Nov. 2. New York has

won the last two meetings after losing six of seven in the

series.