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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
W2W4: Bruins-Islanders, 7 ET

By Joe McDonald

The Boston Bruins (26-11-2, 54 points) will host the New York Islanders (12-21-7, 31 points) Tuesday night at TD Garden (7 p.m.). Here’s what to watch for:

NOT TAKING OPPONENT LIGHTLY: Just because the Islanders are in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference doesn’t mean the Bruins are taking this game for granted. This is the second of three games between the teams this season. New York beat Boston 3-1 on Nov. 2 on the island. The Islanders are also coming off an impressive 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Bruins are 9-4-1 in their last 14 games and 16-5-1 in the last 22 against the Islanders.

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE LATELY: The Bruins have won their last eight games on home ice with a 13-0-2 record in their last 15 at TD Garden. It’s their longest home winning streak since a 14-game stretch from Oct. 25, 2008 to Jan. 1, 2009. Overall, Boston is 3-1-0 in its last four games and 8-3-0 in the last 11. The Ottawa Senators defeated the Bruins 4-3 Saturday night in Ottawa. The Islanders overcame a three-goal deficit to beat the Wild on Sunday in Minnesota. New York is on a three-game road winning streak. The Islanders have also won four of their last five road games, with victories over San Jose, the Rangers, Detroit and Minnesota.

MASKED MEN: It appears that Tuukka Rask will start against the Islanders. He’s 20-8-2 with a 1.89 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. He earned his 20th victory with a 5-0 shutout win over the Senators last Friday at TD Garden. He started again on Saturday in Ottawa but was pulled after allowing three goals in 20 minutes. The Islanders’ Evgeni Nabokov started six straight games since returning from a groin injury on Dec. 14, but served as the backup in the team’s win against the Wild. He’s 2-2-2 since returning to the lineup. Overall, he’s 7-7-5 with a 2.88 GAA and a .902 SP in 20 games.

HE’S BACK: After missing Saturday’s game and half of Monday’s practice with an undisclosed injury, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is back in the lineup tonight against his former team. He’s missed only one game this season and is averaging close to 25 minutes per game.