UNIONDALE, NY -- The Islanders are one of those rare NHL teams that’s consistently manhandled the Bruins this season, winning a pair of regular-season meetings.
The Islanders have outscored the B’s by an 8-4 margin in taking the two contests, but the circumstances behind the two Boston defeats were vastly different: Thomas Vanek and John Tavares dominated offensively in a 3-1 win at Nassau Coliseum that was Dougie Hamilton’s worst game of the season; and the Bruins stopped skating after building a two-goal lead in a 5-3 loss at TD Garden on Dec. 31.
In the second matchup, Tavares dominated again, and the Bruins allowed four power play goals in one of the first games following the knee injury to Dennis Seidenberg. Tavares has three goals and five points along with a plus-3 in two games versus the Bruins, and it will be up to Zdeno Chara to lock things down on the Isles star on Monday night.
The only thing in common in both games? The Bruins knew they hadn’t played close to their best, and perhaps overlooked the Isles slightly.
“I don’t think we played our best against [the Islanders], and I think that’s going to be the challenge [on Monday],” said Claude Julien. “We want to come out and play our game, and play the way that we’re capable of playing. Hopefully we’ll see a difference in the outcome.”
That shouldn’t happen again against a hungry Islanders team that’s gone 10-4-1 in their last 15 games, but is still saddled in the basement of the Metro Division within six points of a playoff spot.
“This being the last meeting against the Islanders, we definitely want to the season series on a good note,” said Milan Lucic. “It’s an important game for us. We just want to focus on carrying [our momentum] into tomorrow, and keeping up our strong play.
“They’re obviously a different team than what they were the last few years. They were a playoff team last year, and they’re fighting for their lives to get back into a position where they can get themselves a playoff spot. They have a long way to with the hole they dug themselves in December when they lost 10 in a row, but they’re fighting their way back and winning hockey games.”
There should be plenty of desperation on the line for both teams. The Isles have lost two in a row, and really can’t afford to keep losing games if they hope to secure a playoff spot for the second year in a row. The Bruins have taken seven of a possible eight points in their last four games as they look to carry out the quest of finishing strong in the final 10 games prior to the Olympic break.
Something will have to give for one of the two teams. It’s a rarity that a team sweeps an entire three-game season series from the Black and Gold, but the Islanders very well could do it at Nassau Coliseum on Monday.