The Boston Bruins began this season much like they ended last season: with plenty of losses. The Bruins have seemed to turn things around, though, and they'll try to win four straight games for the first time in more than two years when they host the Washington Capitals at TD Banknorth Garden on Saturday.
Boston (7-7-2) lost nine of its final 10 games last season to finish with the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference at 29-37-16. After opening this season losing nine of their first 13, the Bruins have appeared to put an end to their early funk.
Boston won its third straight game on Thursday, defeating Toronto 2-1 on Patrice Bergeron's goal 34 seconds into overtime.
"We are getting the results now," said Bergeron, who has four goals in his last five games. "There is a thin line between winning and losing and when you do the right things, you are on the right side of that line."
The Bruins beat the Capitals (8-6-5) 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday, and have earned all their victories this season in one-goal games.
They have not won four straight games since March 9-16, 2004.
Tim Thomas made 24 saves Thursday, and is 5-1-1 with a 2.78 goals-against average in his last eight games after starting the season with three straight losses and a 4.00 GAA.
"It's starting to come together," Boston coach Dave Lewis said. "Tim is playing with a ton of confidence and the guys are starting to feel comfortable with each other."
Thomas stopped 33 shots - including all three shootout attempts - on Wednesday to improve to 4-0-1 with a 1.95 GAA in his career against the Capitals.
The Bruins are 7-1-1 with two ties in their last 11 meetings with Washington.
Two-time All-Star Glen Murray leads Boston with eight goals, and also has eight goals with eight assists in his last 13 games against Washington.
The Capitals fell to defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina 4-1 on Friday, and have lost consecutive games for the fourth time this season.
"(The Hurricanes) are the champions, and they played well, and we're 1-2 against them, and we're trying to strive and to achieve to get to their level," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said.
Washington mustered just 22 shots against Carolina as Alex Ovechkin didn't register a shot through two periods and finished with three. Ovechkin, the reigning rookie of the year, has 12 goals and 10 assists this season.
He has two goals and three assists in five career games against Boston.
Goaltender Olaf Kolzig stopped 25 shots in Friday's defeat. Kolzig is 7-8-5 with two ties, a 2.91 GAA and two shutouts in his career against Boston, but has only two wins in his last nine games versus the Bruins.