The Boston Bruins are finding their groove on offense after some early season struggles. Visiting a team that has struggled defensively of late could help them continue their high-scoring ways.
Boston tries to earn at least one point for the 10th time in 11 games Saturday night when it takes on the slumping New York Islanders.
The Bruins scored the most goals and earned the most points in the Eastern Conference last season, but averaged 2.3 goals in opening 6-7-2. They were shut out in back-to-back games in early November for the first time since March 17-20, 2007.
After that stretch, though, Boston began to regroup. The Bruins have gone 10-2-3 while scoring 3.1 goals per game.
Boston (16-9-5) has been particularly strong in the offensive end over the past two weeks, averaging 4.2 goals in winning four of five. The Bruins scored 12 times in winning their last two games, both at home over Toronto.
They improved to 8-1-1 in their last 10 by beating the Maple Leafs 5-2 on Thursday night. Boston had a three-goal lead cut to one early in the third period before Mark Recchi scored twice in the final 3 minutes.
Tuukka Rask stopped 32 shots to improve to 6-0-1 in eight appearances since his last regulation loss, 4-1 to the Islanders (11-13-7) on Nov. 16.
"We're starting to play more like we did last year as a team and you know, we're starting to get our swagger," Recchi told the Bruins' official Web site. "We're still not there, but we're getting there. We've got a lot of work to do but we're slowly making our way there."
Boston has split two meetings with New York, winning 4-3 in a shootout Oct. 10. This will be the Bruins' first visit to Nassau Coliseum, where they've won three straight following a 10-game winless streak (0-5-1 with four ties).
The Islanders have given up 13 goals in losing their last three, ending a 1-4-0 road trip with a 3-2 defeat to Toronto on Wednesday night. John Tavares scored twice to give him the last four goals for New York, which lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
"It's good to contribute, but at the end of the day it really doesn't matter a whole lot," Tavares said. "It's too bad we weren't able to at least get the point."
The 19-year-old Tavares, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, has team highs of 15 goals and 26 points. He leads all NHL rookies in goals.
"It's good to see because early in the season he had a few opportunities that he didn't cash in on and I know he was frustrated, but he's finding them now," coach Scott Gordon said.
Tavares has two goals and an assist in the two meetings with Boston, which has been stymied by veteran goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
The 40-year-old Roloson has stopped 55 of 59 shots to improve to 4-1-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average lifetime versus the Bruins.