New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) and New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen (51) celebrate a goal over Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, bottom, during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Tavares powers Islanders past Bruins for second straight comeback

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For the second consecutive game the New York Islanders found themselves down by a significant margin with about half the contest in the books. They overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Minnesota on Sunday and tonight the Bruins held a 3-1 lead late into the second period.

Then the Islanders’ power play went to work. The Bruins accumulated three minor penalties in the final four minutes of the second frame and New York’s Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo took advantage of them. Each of them reach the 15-goal mark to tie the game through 40 minutes.

John Tavares already had two assists at that point, but he took over from there, finding the back of the net twice to complete the 5-3 victory over Boston.

It was Tavares’ first four-point night of the 2013-14 campaign and gives him 44 points in 40 contests. At the same time, Okposo extended his point streak to six games.

The Islanders are still just 13-21-7, so naturally they have a daunting uphill climb ahead of them if they want to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Bruins are 26-12-2 as they cling onto their thin lead in the Atlantic Division.

Bruins’ Thornton won’t launch second appeal of 15-game suspension

Shawn Thornton
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Boston Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton will not go through with a second appeal of his 15-game suspension, as per Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.

Thornton had an appeal hearing with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman earlier this month following his lengthy ban for an attack on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, but the 15-game punishment was upheld just prior to Christmas.

Thornton had the option of a second appeal through an independent arbitrator.

As per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, Thornton believes he could’ve gotten perhaps a game or two taken off the suspension, but “didn’t want to become a distraction to team.”

“I know I made a mistake and I crossed the line. But there were a lot of circumstances leading up to it. It won’t define me,” said Thornton on Tuesday.

He continued: “I’m still not happy w/amount of games I got, but I respect the decision. I’d rather just move on mentally.”

On Dec. 7, in a game between the Bruins and Penguins, Thornton grabbed Orpik from behind during a scrum, brought him to the ice and delivered two punches to Orpik while he was down.

Orpik was stretchered off the ice, and suffered a concussion. He has since been taken off injured reserve, playing on Dec. 27 against the Carolina Hurricanes and Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Earlier in the game, Orpik delivered a thunderous hit on Bruins’ forward Loui Eriksson, who left the game and suffered a concussion on the play.

The NHL Department of Player Safety handed Thornton a 15-game suspension for his incident with Orpik – a controversial decision with those in the Bruins organization.

Chara to return to Bruins lineup against Islanders

Boston Bruins v New York Rangers
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Zdeno Chara will return to the Boston Bruins’ lineup on Tuesday against the New York Islanders, as per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com.

Chara, Boston’s towering defenseman and captain, did not play Saturday against the Ottawa Senators with an unspecified injury and had been listed as day-to-day.

The Bruins come into the game four points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic Division, while the Islanders are at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with 12 wins and 31 points.

There was more good news to come from the Bruins on the injury front.

Loui Eriksson (concussion) skated with his teammates yet again on Tuesday, as per Joe Haggerty, who also reported that Carl Soderberg also skated.

Video: Ryan’s big goal spoils Bruins’ comeback, wins it for Sens

ryanbruinsgetty
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The big question for the Bruins on Saturday was: could Boston persevere without Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in the lineup? The Ottawa Senators and Bobby Ryan seemingly answered that with an “almost,” as they beat them 4-3 in an up-and-down game.

Ryan’s goal came when he beat Torey Krug for a breakaway, which prompted some to wonder if Krug would be in such a situation if Chara was healthy:

That wasn’t the only bit of drama. Ottawa chased Tuukka Rask from Boston’s net by scoring three goals on him about 30 seconds into the second period. Jarome Iginla and David Warsofsky scored goals to tie it up with Chad Johnson in net, but Ryan’s goal ended up being the game-winner.

(Ryan, 26, now has 18 goals on the season, by the way.)

The Senators avenge a 5-0 loss to Boston on Friday, improving to 16-18-7, while the B’s see a four-game winning streak end and slide to 26-11-2.

Chara out for Bruins, no Spezza for Sens in Saturday game

charashotgetty
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The Boston Bruins defense already might have felt scatterbrained on Saturday following the stunning news of Dennis Seidenberg’s season-ending injury, and now they’ll be without all-world asset Zdeno Chara, too.

On the other end of the ice, the Ottawa Senators won’t have a guy Chara and Seidenberg likely would’ve been tasked with shutting down: Jason Spezza.

The Bruins announced that Chara, 36, is day-to-day, but they didn’t specify what exactly is bothering the gigantic blueliner. Spezza, 30, is dealing with a lower-body issue.

The Big Z is one of the league’s sturdiest defensemen despite a rugged style; according to the Hockey News’ listings, he hasn’t sat out a game since missing a pair of contests with a leg injury back in late 2011.

It’s not the only loss for Ottawa, either, as stay-at-home defenseman Chris Phillips also has a lower-body injury (specifically a left foot problem) that will keep him out of the lineup.

The precise severity of the issues for the two teams’ stars is unclear, yet it seems like both squads may limp into 2014.