The Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins' five-game road trip has started with consecutive one-goal victories. A visit to the sputtering Atlanta Thrashers could keep them rolling.
The Bruins look to continue their three-year dominance of the Thrashers as they meet for the second time in a week on Thursday night at Philips Arena.
Boston (20-11-4) is among the best road teams in the league at 11-5-1, and so far this swing has been further proof.
The club opened this stretch by beating Florida 3-2 in a shootout Monday before Mark Recchi found the net with 19.7 seconds remaining to clinch a 4-3 win at Tampa Bay the following night.
"We want this road trip to be a stepping stone for our season," said the 42-year-old Recchi, who also assisted on Michael Ryder's goal Tuesday.
The Bruins may be in strong position to do just that. After facing Atlanta (19-14-6), they have visits to Buffalo on Saturday and Toronto on Monday -- the two teams at the bottom of the Northeast.
Before that, they'll try to continue thriving against the Thrashers, who are 1-2-2 in their last five at Philips Arena.
Boston beat Atlanta 4-1 on Dec. 23, which started this three-game overall winning streak. A win Thursday would equal the Bruins' longest run of the season from Oct. 10-21.
They've had little trouble with the Thrashers over the last three years, winning 11 of 12 meetings while outscoring them 49-26. Boston is 4-1-0 at Atlanta in that stretch, but lost 4-1 in its last visit Nov. 28.
Ryder, who has two goals and two assists in the last three games, could play a major role in re-establishing the Bruins' success there. The right wing has nine goals and five assists in his last 12 games against the Thrashers, and five and three, respectively, in six matchups at Philips Arena.
Ryder scored in the most recent meeting last week.
Tim Thomas will likely be back in net looking to continue his own success versus the Thrashers after making 31 saves Tuesday.
He has a 2.36 goals-against average in winning five straight versus Atlanta, including a 26-save performance Dec. 23.
The Thrashers are looking to avoid getting closer to equaling their six-game slide from March 6-14. Their current skid reached four games with a 6-3 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday. It was the first time during the losing streak that Atlanta managed more than two goals.
Dustin Byfuglien has three goals and two assists in the last five games. The defenseman has two goals and three assists in two season meetings with the Bruins, including a goal at Boston last week.
He leads NHL blue liners with team highs of 14 goals and 38 points.
Ondrej Pavelec could be back in net for a fourth consecutive start. He gave up a career-high six goals Tuesday while making 30 saves. He has a 4.31 GAA during a current three-game skid.
Pavelec made 32 saves in the latest meeting with the Bruins, but is 1-2-1 with a 4.44 GAA in six career meetings. He's 7-1-1 with a 1.32 GAA and two shutouts, however, in his last nine home starts.
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