Islanders look to stay perfect vs. Bruins

NHL Hockey

The New York Islanders look to remain perfect against the Bruins on Thursday when the teams begin a back-to-back set in Boston.

New York has won all five meetings against Boston thus far this season, including a 4-3 decision in overtime on March 25. The Islanders also ventured past regulation in their last game with a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Sunday.

That victory concluded a dominant six-game homestand (5-1-0) for the Islanders. The final whistle didn’t just end the game, however, it also started a well-deserved break from their congested schedule.

“It feels like it’s been every day that we’ve been playing this season,” defenseman Adam Pelech said. “So, it’s nice to have a couple days here to get a couple of practices in and regroup mentally.”

Speaking of practice, forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac were able to participate in their first session with the team on Tuesday since being acquired in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.

“They came in and played,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Getting used to how I say things — you don’t reinvent the game — it’s more getting used to the terminology. … Everything from terminology, to practicing, to getting used to the little trends that your linemates may have so you can read off of them. So, it was good for them to get a practice in.”

Palmieri, who converted on the power play to open the scoring against the Rangers, likely will fit right in with the Islanders. After all, he has also tormented the Bruins by recording six points (five goals, one assist) in six meetings this season.

Mathew Barzal has boosted his team-leading totals in assists (24) and points (37) by collecting eight and 12, respectively, over his last eight games.

The Bruins answered their most lopsided loss of the season with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

Craig Smith continued his torrid stretch after being paired on a line with David Krejci and recent trade acquisition Taylor Hall on Tuesday. Smith scored a goal to extend his point streak to five games (three goals, five assists).

“Taylor’s a great player, he’s world class,” Smith said of the former Hart Trophy recipient. “His ability to create and the way he shoots the puck and sees the game, he’s been a player that when I’m playing against him, I’m watching him. It was fun to get a chance to play with him. I’m sure over the next couple games we’ll get to know each other a little bit better.”

Rookie Jeremy Swayman made 21 saves to improve to 3-1-0 in his four career games, however Boston may welcome back Tuukka Rask for Thursday’s clash. The former Vezina Trophy recipient has been sidelined since exiting a game on March 25 after one period with an upper-body injury.

Rask, 34, sports a 17-7-1 record with two shutouts, a 1.91 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in 27 career starts against the Islanders.

Semyon Varlamov, 32, has turned aside 150 of 158 shots to win all five of New York’s encounters versus Boston this season. He owns an 11-5-3 mark with three shutouts, a 2.19 GAA and .927 save percentage in 20 career meetings with the Bruins.

–Field Level Media

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