Bruins vs. Thrashers Preview
ATLANTA, GA - Consistent scoring and solid goaltending have keyed the Atlanta Thrashers' most successful stretch of the season. They'll likely need that combination to continue in order to end their recent struggles against the Boston Bruins.
The Thrashers look to extend their winning streak to five while trying to avoid an 11th consecutive loss to the visiting Bruins on Sunday.
Atlanta (11-9-3) opened its six-game homestand with a 2-1 loss to Florida on Nov. 17, but owns a 15-2 scoring advantage while winning the next four. The Thrashers have not won five in a row since a six-game run March 6-16, 2009.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Thrashers –105 money line favorites for Sunday's game against the Bruins. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 70% of more than 178 bets bets for this game have been placed on the Bruins -103.
"We have to keep rolling," said Ondrej Pavelec, who made 25 saves in Friday's 3-0 win over Montreal.
Pavelec, 5-4-2 with a 1.68 goals-against average, has posted two shutouts and stopped 114 of 116 shots during the four-game winning streak.
"I think it starts with Pavs. He's been playing awesome for us," defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "It's definitely comfortable for a guy like myself playing against some top lines and he's behind you stopping a lot of pucks."
However, if Pavelec gets the chance to continue his success, he must play better than he has against Boston (12-7-2). Pavelec has never won in four starts versus the Bruins, getting pulled in the first period in three of them after allowing three goals.
His personal struggles against Boston have been representative of Atlanta's overall problems with the Bruins.
The Thrashers enter this season's first matchup with an 0-8-2 record in the series since beating Boston 5-0 on Dec. 29, 2007. They have lost 4-0 in each of the last two meetings.
Despite that history, the Thrashers might be playing well enough to reverse those fortunes.
"We are playing a full 60 minutes. In the past we have had some lulls in the periods and I think we have done a good job of maintaining our consistency and focus," said forward Rich Peverley, who had two goals Friday.
Defenseman Tobias Enstrom had a goal with an assist, giving him four points in three games. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien each had an assist, and they've combined for 11 points during the winning streak.
"They're definitely on a roll," Montreal goalie Alex Auld said. "They're getting contributions from everyone. They're a solid team on the rise."
The Bruins have been on a bit of a decline, losing three of four after falling 3-0 to Carolina on Friday.
Another slow start doomed Boston, which allowed the opponent to score first for the 10th time in 12 games.
"We've got to find a way to score the first goal," winger Milan Lucic said.
Though Lucic has a team-high 10 goals, he has none in four games since recording a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Florida on Nov. 18. He had a goal and an assist at Atlanta in the teams' most recent matchup March 23 and has 11 points in 10 career meetings.
Tim Thomas made 18 saves against Carolina to fall to 11-2-1 with a 1.56 GAA. Though he has won four in a row against the Thrashers, Thomas is 2-2-0 with a 3.45 GAA at Atlanta.
Boston ranks among the NHL leaders in penalty killing with an 87.0 percent success rate, but it gave up a season-high three power-play goals Friday.
Atlanta, which converts 24.5 percent of its power-play opportunities, is 4 for 13 with the man advantage the last three games.Twitter and Facebook or Subscribe to Our News Feeds!