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Islanders close out season against Bruins

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
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Islanders close out season against Bruins

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Jon Palmieri
Stats Editor

Boston (52-19-10) at NY Islanders (26-46-9), 5:00 p.m. EDT

UNIONDALE, New York (AP) -- The Boston Bruins may have fallen
short in their bid for the Presidents' Trophy, but the top seed
in the Eastern Conference and the franchise's highest point
total in 37 years should help ease that disappointment.

In their final tune-up before postseason play, the Bruins look
to avoid back-to-back losses Sunday afternoon when they visit
the league-worst New York Islanders.

Boston (52-19-10) headed into its final two regular-season games
with a shot at its first Presidents' Trophy since 1989-90, but
Buffalo scored four first-period goals en route to a 6-1 home
victory Saturday, ending any chance the Bruins had at finishing
with the league's best record.

"We didn't have our heads into it," coach Claude Julien said.
"It would've been nice, but we're not going to cry over spilled
milk."

More important than the results in Boston's final two games is
keeping its players healthy and in top condition with the
playoffs just days away. Julien rested several regulars
Saturday, including captain Zdeno Chara and starting goalie Tim
Thomas. Phil Kessel, who leads the team with 33 goals, also
didn't play because of the flu.

Julien also didn't rule out resting more players on Sunday with
nothing at stake.

Thomas could be back in net Sunday looking to extend a personal
five-game win streak during which he has a 1.78 goals-against
average. He has won four straight starts against the Islanders
(26-46-9), allowing one goal in each game.

The rest of the Bruins have also fared very well versus New York
lately, winning all three meetings this season and limiting the
Islanders to six total goals during five consecutive wins in the
series.

With 114 points, Boston already has its highest total since the
1971-72 team had 119. That season resulted in the Bruins' most
recent Stanley Cup.

The Bruins will face arch-rival Montreal in the first round of
the playoffs for the second straight season. Boston has lost to
the Canadiens in the opening round in three straight postseason
meetings.

This season is mercifully coming to a close for the Islanders,
who will finish with the league's worst record for the first
time since 2000-01.

Since a 6-2-1 run from Feb. 28-March 15, New York has struggled
to a 2-8-1 mark in its last 11 games. Included in that stretch
was a 9-0 loss at Carolina on Tuesday and 6-1 defeat in
Pittsburgh two days later.

The Islanders were more competitive in Saturday's 3-2 home loss
to Philadelphia but still lost their third straight.

A weak offense has been the biggest problem for the Islanders,
who could fail to have a 20-goal scorer for the first time in
franchise history. Rookie Kyle Okposo leads the team with 18
goals.

New York also needs one goal in its final game to reach 200 for
the season.

Assured of picking either first or second in the June draft, the
Islanders are expected to land either star Canadian forward John
Tavares or 6-foot-5 Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman.

"There's a lot of talk about these two players," forward Sean
Bergenheim said. "They'll bring a lot to this team."

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Islanders close out season against Bruins