The Boston Bruins, who had skated to a 4-0 lead through two periods, held on for a nail bitten 5-3 victory over the Blackhawks in front of 19,315 screaming fans at Chicago's United Center on Friday night.
After losing an important point in a heartbreaking overtime loss to Columbus on Monday, the Bruins came out breathing fire in Chicago on Friday.
Glen Murray (5:51), Mark Mowers (shorthanded, 16:18) and Milan Jurcina (17:15) all scored to put the Bruins up 3-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks going into just the first intermission.
"I just tried to kill it behind the net a little bit," said Mowers of his first NHL shorthanded goal. "I brought it out front, the puck was bouncing, and I tried to put it on net as quickly as I could.
"I think it snuck through the five hole."
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas
, who continues to make a serious bid for an All-Star appearance, was as big as usual between the Boston pipes, and stopped all 10 shots he faced in the first.
The second period was more of the same for the Bruins as Boston assistant captain Patrice Bergeron
was the lone goal scorer in the period -- a stanza in which the Bruins retained control for the entire session.
Bergeron scored the goal, on the power play, thanks to a feed from linemate Marco Sturm at 15:07 and put the B's ahead by four.
Thomas, again, was stellar in the middle session, making several difficult saves to finish with 21 stops through 2/3 of the game.
He and Bergeron ushered the B's to the locker room at the beginning of the second intermission in complete control of their destiny.
Through the first 40-minutes, the one bright spot for the Blackhawks was New England native Brian Boucher of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Boucher took the ice for Chicago at the beginning of the second period and saved seven of eight shots he faced in goal in relief of Chicago starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
His would not be the only highlights for Chicago, however, as the Blackhawks made a game of it in the third period.
James Wisniewski (1:35), former Bruin Bryan Smolinski (1:35) and Denis Arkhipov (5:54) returned the B's first period favor and matched Boston's three goal outburst by scoring three of their own to start the third.
In the end, however, the Bruins would have their goaltender to thank for their eventual victory.
Thomas did not get down after the Blackhawks trifecta. He just got stronger and ended up with 37 saves.
And none were more important than his save of the would-be game tying goal at 18:19 of the third, when he dove to his left like a second baseman trying to keep a ball in a baseball infield, and knocked down Jeff Hamilton's bid to be Chicago's hope.
"He's been doing that for the last couple of months," said Brad Boyes. "He's the reason we are where we are at."
The save allowed Marc Savard
to put the game away for the Bruins, finally, when he took a clearing pass from P.J. Axelsson and stuffed it Jordan style into the Blackhawks net at 19:49.
"I followed it with my eyes, and it was an 'oh no' moment," said Thomas after the game. "So I was just trying to stay with it.
"It felt great to make that save.
"It was 4-0 going into the period and I had no idea that a save at the end of the third period would be a big save," he admitted.
"It should have been easier in the third for us," said Bruins head coach Dave Lewis. "We had a 4-0 lead going into the third period. We knew they were going to come and we had to stay out of the penalty box.
"They got the first one. The second one was a fortunate bounce and we were on our heels a bit.
"After the time out we threw more attack in there. And we won. Three months ago maybe we wouldn't have won the hockey game," he said.
With the important win, the Bruins vaulted into sixth place in the Eastern Conference playoff standings going into their game on Saturday with Nashville, having played fewer games than every other team in the East.