Goalie Tim Thomas has the Boston Bruins on a roll.
Thomas looks to help his team match it longest winning streak of the season Saturday when Boston visits the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes.
The Bruins (12-9-2) earned their third straight win and eighth in 10 games Thursday, beating Tampa Bay 4-3 in a shootout. Rookie Phil Kessel, in his first shootout appearance, scored on Boston's seventh attempt after Thomas stopped all seven of the Lightning's tries.
The Bruins, who moved three games above .500 for the first time since the end of the 2003-04 season, won four in a row from Nov. 11-18 to start their 10-game surge.
Thomas has started nine games during that stretch and appeared in all 10, going 8-2-0 with a 2.23 goals-against average. He has rebounded nicely after going 2-3-2 with a 3.73 GAA in his first nine appearances.
"He's playing really strong," captain Zdeno Chara told Boston's official website. "You can see in his game that he is playing with a lot of confidence.
"He's very competitive and he never gives up on any puck."
Thomas won his third straight shootout Thursday after losing his first two of the season and going 2-6 in that situation in 2005-06.
"Last year I wasn't a big fan of shootouts because of my lack of success," he said. "They are very stressful. They're like poker, there's some skill involved but a lot of luck."
Brad Boyes scored his third goal in as many games Thursday, and Patrice Bergeron had two assists to extend his career-best point streak to eight games. Defenseman Paul Mara sat out with a lower-body injury sustained in Boston's 4-1 win over Toronto on Tuesday and is day-to-day.
The Hurricanes (14-10-3) won for just the second time in five games Thursday, beating Montreal 4-2. Carolina set a season high with 48 shots after coach Peter Laviolette held what he called a "regrouping" meeting.
"We're a real good hockey team and there's a lot of expectation that goes with winning the Stanley Cup," Laviolette said. "But I think every once in a while you've got to step back and just enjoy the game. Enjoy each other. Play hard - trust me that was in the message - but while playing hard, enjoy it and have fun.
"I thought we did that today. Guys looked loose. They looked relaxed and they played extremely hard."
Erik Cole scored twice and took 11 shots for the Hurricanes, who open a four-game road trip after Saturday's contest.
"This game was big for team morale," right wing Justin Williams told the team's official website. "It was good to have some fun. We had some fun before the game and we had fun playing the game. We weren't tight. We were loose. We wanted to have fun working."
Carolina has won four of five against the Bruins, including a 5-1 victory at Boston on Nov. 24 in the teams' only meeting this season.