New York Islanders (4-2-0) at Boston Bruins (4-4-0), 7 p.m. (ET)

( – The Boston Bruins have picked up the pace after a slow
start to the season. The New York Islanders, meanwhile, have lost two straight
since beginning 2014-15 with a surprising 4-0 mark.

New York will try to end its slide and prevent the Bruins from winning a third
consecutive tilt when the clubs meet Thursday at Boston’s TD Garden.

The Islanders matched the best start in club history with four consecutive
wins to open the season, but after suffering Saturday’s 3-1 defeat in
Pittsburgh, the Isles returned home and dropped a 5-2 decision against
Toronto. New York held leads in both setbacks before letting the opposition
turn the tables.

The Isles led 2-1 after 20 minutes on Tuesday, but the Maple Leafs took
control with a four-goal outburst in the second period

John Tavares and Nick Leddy scored for the Islanders, who were handed their
first loss in three home games this season. Jaroslav Halak gave up five goals
in 23 shots and was replaced in the third period by Chad Johnson, who made
five saves.

“We’ll point out some things we need to work on, but there were some good
things tonight,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano.

New York already has encountered injury problems, as the club is currently
playing without key players like forwards Michael Grabner and Mikhail
Grabovski and defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Grabovski, however, was back at
practice Wednesday and could return from his concussion-like symptoms soon,
although he isn’t eligible to come off injured reserve until Friday.

Isles defenseman Thomas Hickey also left Tuesday’s game with a facial
laceration after getting cut by the skate blade of Maple Leafs forward Mike
Santorelli, Hickey was at practice Wednesday and expects to play tonight while
wearing a face shield.

“I’ve been playing hockey without a cage since I was 16, so in nine years it
happens once,” Hickey told the Islanders website. “That’s a lot of games, so
your odds are pretty good.”

Former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk will face his old club for the first
time since getting dealt to the Islanders on Oct. 4. Boychuk has two goals and
four assists in his first six games with New York.

The Bruins started the season 1-3-0, but have won three of their last four
games and enter Thursday on their first winning streak of 2014-15.

Boston recorded a 4-0 win at Buffalo on Saturday and followed with Tuesday’s
5-3 comeback victory over the visiting San Jose Sharks. The Bruins trailed the
Sharks 3-2 after 40 minutes, but responded with three unanswered goals in the
third period.

After Seth Griffith tied the game with his first career goal less than five
minutes into the third, Gregory Campbell notched the deciding goal at the
10:42 mark. David Krejci added a short-handed empty-net tally with 25 seconds
left to seal the victory.

Torey Krug also lit the lamp for Boston and Milan Lucic contributed three
assists. Tuukka Rask made 31 saves to even his record at 3-3-0.

Griffith, a 21-year-old rookie, has been playing on Boston’s top line along
with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and Bruins coach Claude Julien practiced
them on the same unit at Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re starting to gain a little chemistry going so that’s good to see,”
Griffith told on Tuesday. “But, you know, it’s not too hard playing
with two great players.”

Boston defenseman Kevan Miller will miss a second straight game after
dislocating his right shoulder on Saturday. The Bruins announced Monday that
Miller is out indefinitely.

Rask expects to start tonight and the Finnish netminder is 6-3-0 with a 2.51
goals against average in his career against the Islanders. Halak, meanwhile,
boasts an 8-3-0 record and a 1.86 GAA in 11 lifetime tests versus the Bruins.

The Isles had won three in a row against Boston before losing a 6-3 home tilt
on Jan. 27. It was the 10th win for the Bruins in the last 15 overall
meetings, but New York has claimed two in a row and three of the past four
encounters in Boston.