(Sports Network) - The Boston Bruins are allowing the fewest goals per game in the league, but their defensive unit is about to be tested.
With blueliner Mark Stuart expected to miss an extended amount of time, Boston will try to deal the New York Islanders a fourth straight setback this evening at TD Garden.
The Bruins allow just 1.88 goals-against per game thanks in large part to goaltender Tim Thomas and his NHL-leading 1.49 GAA and .955 save percentage. A solid group of defensemen, including Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, has helped, but that unit is starting to get stretched thin.
Boston was forced to trade defender Matt Hunwick to Colorado in late November to make cap space for the returning Marc Savard, while Stuart suffered a fractured right ring finger during the first period of Tuesday's 3-2 overtime victory over Buffalo that could keep him out for up to six weeks.
To replace Stuart, Steven Kampfer was recalled from Providence of the American Hockey League on Wednesday after posting three goals and 13 assists in 20 games.
Boston is 3-0-1 in its last four games and rebounded from a shootout loss in Toronto on Saturday with its recent victory over Buffalo. Mark Recchi scored the game-winner 2:11 into overtime, but didn't get to celebrate his goal until nearly a minute later. The score was initially waived off and the Bruins had to wait for a stoppage of play to get a review, which confirmed the goal that came off a redirection of a Seidenberg shot.
"I was just trying to get a good screen for Seidenberg, and it was a great shot by him," Recchi said. "It was a good win for us. We weren't as sharp as we would have liked. I knew it went in."
Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic scored for Boston, while Thomas ended with 28 saves.
Thomas is 8-4-1 with a 2.00 GAA in his career versus the Islanders, a club that the Bruins have beaten in eight of the last 10 meetings. New York did snap a six-game slide in Boston when the clubs last met at TD Garden on Nov. 16, 2009.
New York halted a club-record 14-game winless streak versus the Devils on Nov. 26, but have lost three straight since. After getting swept in a home-and-home series by the Rangers last week, the Islanders blew a one-goal lead en route to a 3-2 home setback to the Flyers.
Jon Sim and Frans Nielsen erased a 1-0 deficit when they scored 36 seconds apart in the third period, but the next two goals came off the stick of Philadelphia.
"Each individual day in and day out has to do their best," said Dwayne Roloson, who made 24 saves. "Everyone on this team has to look at themselves and decide as a team that we can make this work or it's never going to happen."
New York went 0-for-4 on the power play against Philadelphia and is now scoreless on 36 man-advantage situations over the last 11 games as well as 1-5-2 under interim head coach Jack Capuano.
The Islanders, who have dropped 10 in a row on the road to fall to 2-9-3 as the guest, were without defenseman Bruno Gervais (broken left cheekbone) for a third straight game, while captain Doug Weight (back spasms) sat out his seventh contest in a row.
Roloson has solid career numbers versus Boston, going 5-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA, while Rick DiPietro is 6-5-1 with two ties and a 2.24 GAA against them.