Thinking Four Straight

Tim Thomas and P.J. Axelsson have the Boston Bruins in position to match a season high with their fourth consecutive win Tuesday when they host the sputtering Carolina Hurricanes.

Thomas has backstopped the Bruins (21-16-4) to three straight victories, posting a 1.67 goals-against average in those games, while Axelsson has contributed two goals and two assists during the run. Boston, two points behind second-place Montreal in the Northeast Division, last won four in a row from Oct. 12-20.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Boston -130 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Carolina +120 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

On Saturday, Thomas made 19 of his 42 saves in the third period and Axelsson added a goal and two assists in a 4-3 win over New Jersey. The Bruins improved to 3-0 during their five-game homestand, which ends Thursday against the Canadiens.

Axelsson has been hot recently, scoring five of his nine goals this season over the last eight games. He had a goal in Boston's 4-3 road defeat to Carolina on Dec. 28 - the first of four regular season meetings between the teams.

"I've played with him long enough (to know) he's a great offensive player and he helps me defensively," Bruins center Marc Savard told the team's official Web site. "Tonight, and in the last couple of games he has really stepped up.

"He has really come to the fore."

Thomas has done the same. He's 6-1-1 with a 1.99 GAA in his last eight home games, including a 31-save performance Thursday for his first shutout of the season, 2-0 over Washington.

Thomas is 1-2-1 with a 3.37 GAA in four home matchups against the Hurricanes. He made 33 saves in the Dec. 28 loss.

The Bruins are 1-5-1 in their last seven home meetings with Carolina, and 2-5-2 in the last nine overall matchups.

The Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes (21-19-4), who have the fewest points of any first-place team, are hoping to rebound from a 1-0 loss at St. Louis on Saturday - their fourth defeat in five games.

Carolina's Eric Staal has seven goals and six assists in the last 11 contests, but the Hurricanes have lost eight consecutive games in which Staal has been held pointless.

The center has eight goals and 10 assists in 13 games against Boston, including five goals and four assists in six games at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins are 4-for-11 on the power play during the winning streak, giving them a 20.0 percent success rate on the season to rank among the league leaders. Carolina has killed off seven power plays over the last two games, but has the worst penalty killing percentage in the league at 76.0 percent.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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