|TOR||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||5|
|BOS||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||8|
The Boston Bruins have been unbeatable at home for nearly two months, winning 11 straight at the TD Banknorth Garden, including the last 10 by at least two goals.
Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs remember how to respond.
The Leafs - the only visiting team to win in regulation in Boston this season - will try to bookend the Bruins' home winning streak on Thursday, when Toronto hopes to continue its strong defensive play and win its fourth straight game.
The Bruins (21-5-4) have been consistent throughout their surge to the top of the Eastern Conference this season, but they've been especially dominant at home, outscoring opponents 55-23 during their 11-game run.
"I think they realize what has gotten us here and what is going to keep us here and that we still have to be the hardest working team on the ice," Bruins coach Claude Julien told his team's official Web site.
Having a prolific power play has also helped, as Boston has converted at a 37.0 percent clip (17-of-46) at home during the streak. The unit will try to exploit a Toronto penalty kill that ranks 28th (77.5 percent).
The Bruins scored a pair of goals in five power play chances on Saturday, going into a four-day layoff with a 4-2 win over Atlanta.
Phil Kessel opened the scoring on the man advantage, also adding an assist while extending his points streak to 15 - the longest in the NHL this season. He has 12 goals and 10 assists during the run and has already matched his career high with 19 goals this season.
"He's been hot with the stick, and it's something we've been looking for for a long time - someone that can be a threat every night," Julien said.
David Krejci also had three assists against the Thrashers, giving him five goals and 15 assists in his last 12 games.
The Bruins beat the Leafs 5-2 at the Garden on Nov. 6 during their home winning streak, also winning 3-2 at Toronto 11 days later. But the Leafs were the last visiting team to win in Boston, and the only one all season to do it in regulation, outshooting the Bruins 37-28 during their 4-2 victory on Oct. 23.
Toronto (12-12-6) comes into Thursday's meeting with a head of steam, having won three straight for the first time this season and allowing only five total goals over that span.
Among the NHL's worst defensive teams for much of the season, the Leafs rank 26th in the league with a 3.23 team goals-against average, while the Bruins are the best at 2.10. But Toronto is hoping goalie Vesa Toskala has found a groove. Toskala has now allowed two or fewer goals in four straight starts, lowering his GAA to 3.01.
"A lot of times I've seen Vesa be like this," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "Not so sharp at the start of the season, but a month or so in, with a lot of hard work, he finds his game."
Forward Jeremy Williams has found his game quickly at the NHL level. Williams scored just two goals in 18 games with the Leafs last season, but he has a goal in each of his first three games of 2008-09 for the Leafs, adding a shootout goal in Toronto's 3-2 win over New Jersey on Tuesday.
On Thursday, he'll likely be trying to score on Tim Thomas, who has been in goal for all three of the Bruins' games against the Leafs this season. Thomas is 11-4-2 with a 2.84 GAA in his career against Toronto.
|Mar 28 '09||BOS 7 at TOR 5||D. Krejci|
|Jan 21 '09||BOS 4 at TOR 3 - SO||M. Ryder|
|Dec 18 '08||TOR 5 at BOS 8||P. Kessel|
|Nov 17 '08||BOS 3 at TOR 2||M. Ryder|
|Nov 06 '08||TOR 2 at BOS 5||B. Wheeler|
|Oct 23 '08||TOR 4 at BOS 2||A. Stralman|
|M. Van Ryn||17||3||6||9||+2||8||2||0|