The New York Islanders will try to boost their playoff credentials with a third straight win when they visit the first-place Boston Bruins for Thursday's clash at TD Garden.
The Islanders haven't qualified for the postseason in six years, but they enter Thursday tied with the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators for the last three playoff spots in the East. The Rangers are idle on Thursday, while Ottawa, which has a game in hand over the New York clubs, plays Thursday evening in Philadelphia.
The Isles and Rangers will meet Saturday on Long Island.
New York has been able to help its cause tremendously in recent weeks, winning four of five and posting a 7-1-1 record over its last nine trips to the ice. The Islanders earned their second straight win Tuesday against Philadelphia and have recorded at least a point in each of their five games (4-0-1) in April.
The Islanders notched a 4-1 win against the visiting Flyers, as John Tavares and Casey Cizikas scored 28 seconds apart late in regulation to help seal the victory. The Isles posted their first home victory against the Flyers since a 6-4 decision on April 1, 2010, snapping a seven-game losing skid on Long Island to Philadelphia.
Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner also tallied, while Evgeni Nabokov stopped 26 shots for the Islanders, who were eliminated in the first round by Buffalo when they last made the postseason in 2007.
"We played like we wanted it more. I think that's why we got the two points," Nabokov said. "Everything is positive right now, but you can't get carried away because you know that it's such a fight for the playoffs with eight games left. You can find yourself very quickly the other way. You just want to keep the focus and intensity at the same level, win or lose."
Although New York will return to the Coliseum for a two-game homestand after this tilt in Boston, the Islanders will play six of their last eight tilts of the regular season on the road. However, that could suit the Isles, who are 11-5-2 on the road this season compared to a 9-11-2 mark at home.
Boston, which took over first place in Northeast Division with a win over New Jersey on Wednesday, has won three straight, six of seven and nine of the last 11 encounters with the Islanders. New York has lost four of five and 10 of 12 in Beantown.
The Bruins, who entered Wednesday trailing Montreal by one point for the division lead, leaped over the idle Canadiens with a 5-4 win at New Jersey. Both teams have nine games left in the regular season and Montreal is playing Thursday night in Buffalo.
Boston raced out to a 4-0 lead before the Devils battled back and closed to within a goal two times in the third period.
"I guess we got too satisfied. We really took our foot off the gas and they almost stole one," Seguin said.
Gregory Campbell beat New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur twice in Boston's three-goal opening frame. Jaromir Jagr and Rich Peverley each had two assists for Boston.
Boston did lose one of its top forwards to an injury on Wednesday, as Brad Marchand left the game after taking an elbow to the head from New Jersey's Anton Volchenkov late in the second period. Marchand, who is currently leading the Bruins in goals (16) and points (33), did not return and is expected to miss this evening's game.
The Bruins have not specified the nature of Marchand's injury, but it is feared to be a concussion. Boston's second-leading scorer, Patrice Bergeron, is already sidelined indefinitely with a concussion and will miss a fifth straight game on Thursday.
Volchenkov, meanwhile, was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for delivering the elbow and he could be facing a suspension from the league.
The Bruins have won three straight at TD Garden and are playing five of their next six games on home ice. Boston has a stellar 14-2-2 record as the host in 2013.