Islanders Still Have Playoff Hopes
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(AP) – 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.
Updated March 11, 2011
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