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The New York Islanders haven't won since the new year began, and they're mired in their third losing streak of five games or more this season.
A visit from the Boston Bruins probably isn't going to help turn things around.
The Bruins will try to pad their lead atop the Eastern Conference on Thursday when they travel to Long Island, where the league-worst Islanders will look to win for only the third time since the beginning of December.
Boston (32-7-4) has the second-best record in the NHL, and has been the league's most impressive team since late November. Starting with a 7-2 rout of the Islanders on Nov. 28, the Bruins have compiled an 18-3-0 record, earning an unmatched 36 points during that stretch.
They won 15 of 16 since that victory against New York through Jan. 1 before consecutive losses to Buffalo and Minnesota during a six-game homestand. But Boston closed its stretch at the TD Banknorth Garden with three straight wins, including a 3-1 victory on Tuesday over Montreal - the team that knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs last season.
"It was definitely a playoff-type atmosphere," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I'm glad we had our fans behind us. It was nice to be in Boston for this one."
Defenseman Zdeno Chara scored twice against the Canadiens, but the star during the Bruins' three-game winning streak has been David Krejci. The third-year center, who had six goals in 62 games during his first two NHL seasons, has 17 in 43 contests this season, including one each over the past three victories.
Krejci also has four assists in his last three games, giving him 48 points to rank second on the team behind Marc Savard's 52.
Krejci had a goal and an assist in the 7-2 victory over New York on Nov. 28, when he was one of six Bruins to score. Right wing Michael Ryder scored twice.
While Boston's latest game may have had a precursor of things to come in the postseason, the Islanders (12-27-4) certainly don't look like a team that'll be making playoff plans anytime soon.
New York's 28 points are five fewer than Atlanta, the league's second-worst team, and the Islanders have been particularly woeful since the end of November. While Boston has lost three times since then, New York has won just twice, going a dreadful 2-15-2 while being outscored 75-45.
The Islanders grabbed a 1-0 lead Tuesday at home against the New York Rangers, but gave up two goals in a two-minute span in the second period in a 2-1 loss.
Of more concern than their fifth straight loss, though, was another key injury. New York is already missing top forwards Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger, defenseman Andy Sutton, and franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro, but on Tuesday lost goalie Joey MacDonald to an undisclosed injury five minutes in.
That forced backup Yann Danis to come in, and if he had been injured, goaltending coach Mike Dunham would have been the next option.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Islanders captain Bill Guerin, who has a team-leading 13 goals. "I mean, injuries are a part of the game, but this is just crazy."
Danis has three NHL wins to his credit in 10 career starts, the last coming on Nov. 15, 2005, while with Montreal.
The Islanders brought back Wade Dubielewicz, signing him on Thursday. Dubielewicz is best known for filling in for DiPietro in the final week of the 2006-07 season and winning four straight games to lift New York into the eighth and final playoff seed.
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