Of all the things the Boston Bruins have done well over the past six weeks, perhaps one of the most unnoticed has been bouncing back from a loss.
That could be because they haven't had to do it very often.
Coming off their second regulation defeat in their last 17 games, the Bruins will look to avoid their first back-to-back losses since October when they open a home-and-home series Friday by visiting the reeling Atlanta Thrashers.
Boston (19-5-4) entered Wednesday's game at Washington with a 14-1-1 record since the beginning of November, but coach Claude Julien's club fell behind early and lost 3-1 to the Capitals, scoring fewer than two goals for the first time in 13 games.
Milan Lucic's second-period goal was the only one of the Bruins' 34 shots to beat Washington goalie Brent Johnson - a rarity for a team that is among the league leaders with 93 goals.
"We're going to call it missed opportunities," Julien told the Bruins' official Web site. "We had some real quality opportunities there to score and thought we could have made a different game of it."
The few times Boston has lost since its surge to the top of the Eastern Conference began, the Bruins have had no problem rebounding. Each of their previous four losses have been followed by wins, including a 5-4 victory over the Thrashers on Oct. 25 that ended a three-game losing streak - the last time they lost consecutive games.
Their most recent defeat before Wednesday, a 3-2 loss at Buffalo on Nov. 26, was followed by a 7-2 win over the New York Islanders and a five-game winning streak.
They'll hope to start a new run against Atlanta, with the teams also slated to play Saturday in Boston.
The Thrashers (9-14-4) have had trouble beating anyone lately, going 2-7-2 in their last 11 games while averaging 3.5 goals allowed. Ilya Kovalchuk's third-period goal tied the game and helped them earn a point on Wednesday, but they lost 3-2 in overtime at home to the New York Rangers.
"We had our chances to win, and it's kind of the way the year has gone so far," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "If it's a bad bounce, it's going to go against us. I thought we played very hard, and we did what we wanted to do. That's the No. 1 team in their division. We played them right to the end."
The Thrashers are still trying to sort out their goaltending situation.
Starter Kari Lehtonen remains out with a back injury, and both Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg have struggled in his place. All three players have goals-against averages over 3.00, and Hedberg's 3.55 GAA is the second-highest in the league.
Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez is 5-0-0 with a 1.80 GAA all-time against the Thrashers, but he played Wednesday, meaning Boston seems likely to start Tim Thomas, who ranks second in the NHL with a 1.90 GAA.
The Bruins have won three straight against the Thrashers, but they're 1-3-0 in Atlanta since signing former Thrashers center Marc Savard as a free agent in 2006.
Savard, who ranks in the NHL's top five with 24 assists this season and had 97 points in 2005-06 in his final season in Atlanta, has only one goal and one assist in the four visits. He enters the game having been held without a point in his last three contests overall, matching a season high.
Boston's Phil Kessel, meanwhile, has at least a point in an NHL-best 13 straight games.