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Bruins, Islanders all tied up going into key matchup

NEW YORK -- Two teams vying for the same thing but going in opposite directions will square off in one of the biggest games of the NHL season Saturday night when the New York Islanders host the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center.

The Islanders and Bruins enter Saturday tied for the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. New York created the deadlock Friday night when it outlasted the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in a shootout.

It was the second straight win over a playoff-bound foe by the Islanders, who were three points out of the second wild card entering Wednesday's 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.

"That's four points against two really good teams," interim Islanders coach Doug Weight said on the team's postgame show Friday night. "We've got two more to chase (Saturday)."

The Bruins' chase is becoming increasingly desperate. Boston has lost four straight, including a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, to fall out of third place in the Atlantic Division and into the wild card free-for-all.

"We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror and we can't point fingers," Bruins center David Krejci told Comcast Sports New England after Thursday's loss. "Everyone has to step up and if every guy is going to do their job, including myself, then the rest will follow, you know?"

The burgeoning collapse is beginning to seem familiar in Boston. The Bruins missed the playoffs after late fades in each of the last two seasons, but defenseman Torey Krug said earlier this week he was confident history would not repeat itself.

"It's a different feeling this year," Krug told Comcast Sports New England on Tuesday. "(A collapse) is not going to happen this year. I know we've got a lot of pride in this room."

The Islanders, meanwhile, are looking to complete a remarkable turnaround -- they were last in the NHL in points through Thanksgiving weekend -- by reaching the playoffs for the third straight season for the first time since qualifying for the postseason from 2002 through 2004.

"They're all big (games) now, but especially when you play a team that's part of the group that's battling for positioning, they're amplified a little bit more," Islanders center John Tavares told reporters Friday night.

Two No. 1 goalies will likely be in net Saturday night. Thomas Greiss, who started 10 of the Islanders' previous 11 games before Jaroslav Halak picked up the win Friday night, should return to the lineup in the second game of a back-to-back set.

Struggling Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who has started 11 of the last 13 games and every game in the losing streak, didn't practice Friday. Interim coach Bruce Cassidy said he wouldn't name a starter until Saturday.

The Islanders are looking to complete the series sweep of the Bruins, whom they beat 4-2 on Dec. 20 in Boston and 4-0 on Jan. 16. The latter was the last game coached by Jack Capuano, who was fired a day later and replaced by Weight.

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