If Tim Thomas continues playing like this, the Boston Bruins are in for quite a season.
Thomas made 33 saves in his seventh straight win, and Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder had a goal and assist each to lift the Bruins to a 5-2 victory against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on Wednesday night.
Thomas (7-0-0), who entered with a 0.50 goals-against average after consecutive shutouts, had his shutout streak of 167 minutes, 12 seconds snapped when Drew Stafford's second-period goal made it 4-1.
Thomas said he is playing his best hockey since making his NHL debut in October 2002, but it is not the fastest start of his career. He registered five shutouts in the first 10 games for Jokerit of the Finnish league during the work stoppage in 2004-05.
"It was kind of something similar to this start," Thomas said. "I was able to ride that the whole year, so I hope the same thing happens."
After losing 5-2 to Phoenix in the season opener, Boston is 7-1-0 behind the standout play of Thomas, who allowed more than one goal for the first time this season. Thomas tied his career high for longest winning streak and became the first Boston goaltender to start a season with seven consecutive victories.
Thomas' best save came as the Sabres' 37-second, two-man advantage was winding down with 13 minutes to go. He dived and reached behind with the paddle of his stick to deny Derek Roy's stuff-in chance at the right post.
Patrice Bergeron, Blake Wheeler and Milan Lucic also scored for Boston, which set a franchise record by winning its fifth consecutive road game to open a season.
"Right now we're feeling pretty good, but at the same time we can get better," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "There's always room to improve. But overall, yeah, it's nice to be winning."
Boston scored three times in the first period, including shorthanded goals by Marchand and Bergeron. Marchand scored on a breakaway after taking Tim Connolly's errant pass in the Boston zone. Bergeron wristed in his second of the season from the top of the right circle.
Wheeler pushed the Bruins' lead to 3-0 with his first of the season with 3:06 left in the first period. Standing just outside the corner of the crease, Wheeler lifted in Ryder's pass from behind the net after outmuscling Stafford.
Ryder made it 4-0 at 2:11 of the second, wristing a shot past from the lower portion of the right circle past Patrick Lalime.
"Everybody's playing pretty good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We don't have any passengers, everybody's working hard, and everybody's committed."
Buffalo (3-8-2) lost its fourth straight and was without the services of Ryan Miller on Wednesday night. The Sabres' No. 1 goalie is nursing an undisclosed lower body injury that he tweaked late in Friday's overtime loss to the Atlanta Thrashers.
Andrej Sekera also scored for Buffalo, which came in with the second-fewest points (8) in the NHL after winning the Northeast Division last season.
"We're looking at trying to get a win, and guys are uptight before we even start the game," said Sabres captain Craig Rivet. "The breakdowns are coming from guys squeezing their sticks like it's a grenade."
Buffalo welcomed back right wing Jason Pominville, who missed nine games because of a concussion sustained when he was hit into the boards from behind by Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Stafford finally solved Thomas with a power-play goal with 3:21 left in the second period, banging home a loose puck. Sekera cut the deficit to 4-2 with 4:34 remaining in the game.
Lucic capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 2:07 left.
"Guys were racing to get off the ice instead of racing to get on," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said.
Hurricanes 7, Islanders 2 | HIGHLIGHTS
Four nights after being torched for six goals in Philadelphia, Rick DiPietro struggled mightily again. Facing a team that had yet to score in its own rink this season, DiPietro allowed seven goals on 32 shots as the Isles were pummeled by Carolina at RBC Center.
It was the fifth straight loss for New York (4-6-2), which has been outscored 13-3 in its last two contests. DiPietro (2-3-2) saw his GAA rise to 4.21, while his save percentage dropped to .854.
"Things aren't going great," DiPietro told Newsday. "You get in a slide like this and it's tough to get over it."
Jon Matsumoto scored his first two NHL goals for the Hurricanes. Joe Corvo, Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, Jiri Tlusty and Jeff Skinner also scored and Sergei Samsonov had three assists for Carolina, which avoided a three-game skid.
The Hurricanes broke their home scoreless streak 10:12 into the first period when Corvo slapped a shot past a lunging DiPietro after the Isles' goalie fell behind his net.
Samsonov was instrumental in the next goal, darting around the offensive zone before finding Matsumoto in front. Matsumoto shoveled a shot past DiPietro for his first goal.
"(Carolina GM) Jim Rutherford came down today and he just told us, 'If you're going to play in the League, at least have fun while you're doing it,"' Matsumoto said. "It's a lot more fun when you're winning."
Just over three minutes later, Samsonov centered the puck out of the corner to Staal, who sent a one-timer past DiPietro from the slot.
"I didn't want to go through that first period without scoring," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "It was good because then you don't have to talk about (the scoreless streak) any more."
The Hurricanes then scored a pair of odd goals 43 seconds apart in the middle period. DiPietro tried to freeze the puck in the crease under little pressure from the Hurricanes, but he couldn't grab it. Sutter stole the puck and snapped a shot into the open net. Tlusty then scored on a rebound off the end boards.
"It was horrendous tonight," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. "We're starting to break out when we don't even have possession of the puck. We're going into the defensive zone with no purpose. It's something we've got to get better at quickly, because it's costing us games."
Michael Grabner ended Cam Ward's (31 saves) shutout bid early in the third period on a wrister from the slot. PA Parenteau scored New York's second goal via the power play at 15:29 before Matsumoto rounded out the scoring in the final minute.
"We're extremely disappointed," Isles defenseman Mike Mottau said. "We wanted to come out with a better effort after the loss in Philly. This team was struggling at home, and we wanted to take advantage of it. We didn't put our best effort out there, and it showed on the scoreboard."
Thrashers 4, Panthers 3 | HIGHLIGHTS
Florida tied a franchise record with 55 shots on goal, but Chris Mason made sure it wasn't enough for the Panthers to leave with two points -- he made 52 saves, Niclas Bergfors scored the game-winner and Fredrik Modin had two goals as Atlanta edged Florida at the BankAtlantic Center.
"That's a lot of shots, and Mason did a terrific job," Modin said. "Everybody's aware of the chances they had. But we scored one more goal than they did. It was a good team effort with Mason leading the way. We need to see what we can do differently because we can't have our goalie face 55 shots every night."
Dustin Byfuglien also scored for the Thrashers, who needed Mason to make 22 saves in the second period alone. The 55 shots by Florida tied a franchise record set on Dec. 18, 2005, in a 3-2 win at Washington.
"I knew I was busy, yeah. I had some constant work," Mason said. "The guys held on and we did a good job in the last five minutes."
Bryan Allen, Jason Garrison and Steven Reinprecht scored and Tomas Vokoun stopped 19 shots for the Panthers.
"We shouldn't give up four on 22 shots and we've got to score more than three on 55 shots," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "There's fault at both ends."
Allen's goal gave Florida a 3-2 lead at 4:31 of the third period. Michael Frolik sent a pass to Allen along the blue line for a shot from the point that got past Mason.
The lead didn't last long.
The Thrashers tied it when Byfuglien took the puck off the faceoff and fired a shot from the right point past Vokoun at 9:59. Atlanta took the lead 71 seconds later when Bergfors' slap shot from the left dot beat Vokoun. Bergfors has four goals in four games and a five-game point streak.
"I don't know what to say about it other than just work hard and do the small details," Bergfors said. "Usually, you get a little lucky when you do that."
Atlanta had taken a 2-1 lead at 9:51 of the second on Modin's second goal. His shot was blocked by Vokoun, but when the goalie squeezed his pads together, the puck squirted slowly across the goal line.
The Panthers tied it 2-all when Reinprecht scored at 17:53 of the second. Bryan McCabe's shot from the point was blocked by Mason, but Reinprecht grabbed the rebound and shoveled it into the net.
After Florida took a 1-0 lead on Garrison's goal at 9:38 of the first, the Thrashers tied it at 1 with 6 seconds left in the first after the Panthers turned over the puck in the neutral zone. Byfuglien gloved the loose puck, brought it forward and passed it from below the right circle to Modin inside the left circle. Modin poked in the puck on Vokoun's glove side.
"I think I played horrible. I gave up two bad goals," Vokoun said. "We were a way better team the whole game. This one hurts. A few more saves from me and we would have won the game no problem."
Coyotes 4, Predators 3 | HIGHLIGHTS
With his team's forwards struggling to score, Ed Jovanovski became the first defenseman in the history of the Coyotes franchise to get a hat trick as Phoenix rallied to beat Nashville.
For NHL.com's complete story, click here.
Ducks 3, Lightning 2 (OT) | HIGHLIGHTS
Ryan Getzlaf buried a perfect feed from Teemu Selanne at 2:53 of overtime lifted Anaheim past Tampa Bay at the Honda Center.
Kyle Palmieri scored the tying goal late in regulation of his first NHL game to force the extra period. Palmieri, 19, logged about 7 1/2 minutes of ice time before he tied it with 4:20 left, beat beating Dan Ellis to the glove side after Bobby Ryan set him up in the slot.
"It's been a rush these last 24 hours," said Palmieri, who was promoted from AHL Syracuse on Tuesday night. "I was at the rink (Wednesday) morning, and nothing really sank in until I went back.
"It was a dream come true. Even just being there and out on the ice, it was an honor. It's something I've been dreaming about since I was a little kid playing hockey back in New Jersey."
Selanne also scored for the Ducks, who improved to 5-7-1 and received a 32-save performance from Jonas Hiller. In overtime, Selanne rushed the puck up left wing and skated behind the net before sending it out in front to Getzlaf, and the latter one-timed it past Ellis for the win.
"There's not much else I had to do with it," Getzlaf said of Selanne's brilliant pass. "He made all the play down the wall and got his feet moving late in overtime. He made a great pass."
Blair Jones and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning. Stamkos' goal was his 10th, which has him tied with Chicago's Patrick Sharp for the League lead. Stamkos also leads the NHL with 20 points and has a League-best 77 goals since Feb. 17, 2009.
"We expected a tough game," Stamkos said. "They're struggling as of late and they're coming back home. They want to come out strong and I think they did that. It just took us too long to wake up. Our goaltender played great, made some big saves and kept us in the game. We got a point, but it wasn't our best effort."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.