PHILADELPHIA - The Boston Bruins are gradually returning to their mid-season form.
Tim Thomas made 45 saves for his career-high 32nd win, Milan Lucic scored two goals and the Bruins held off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 on Sunday night for their third straight victory.
Dennis Wideman and Mark Recchi also scored, David Krejci added three assists, and Zdeno Chara had two assists for the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins, who snapped a five-game road losing streak Saturday night with a 7-5 victory in Toronto.
Asked if the team was getting back where it was defensively when it won ten straight games and 15 of 16, Thomas said, "I think it's a step in the right direction.
"Offensively we were opportunistic and scored some big goals and we're getting that part of our game together," Thomas explained. "We're making steps forward in the other direction. but I don't think anybody thinks that we're completely there. I think it's a step in the right direction."
Thomas was especially effective midway through the second period when he thwarted a Philadelphia two-man advantage for 1:52 and made a brilliant stop on a shot by Scott Hartnell. A few seconds later, he denied Mike Knuble's attempt from the doorstep.
"It's frustrating," Hartnell said. "It would've put us right back in the hockey game. It was probably a big motivation shift on their part."
"It was really good to come out of this weekend with four points, no matter how you get them," Thomas said.
Claude Giroux, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers, who had won four of their previous five games.
Antero Niittymaki, making his first start in seven games, made 27 saves for the Flyers.
"Ready to play, moving side to side, and timing and stuff like that I was a little rusty," Niittymaki said. "But I've felt a lot worse."
Giroux put the Flyers ahead at 4:56 of the first period, scoring from the side of the net after taking a pass from Arron Asham.
Boston then scored three straight goals to take a 3-1 lead.
"I think our forecheck tonight was better than what we've seen in a long time," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We were much better defensively, obviously, and had much fewer breakdowns. We're establishing ourselves as a four-line team again."
Lucic teamed with Michael Ryder on a 2-on-1 rush to tie it at 10:39.
After Wideman scored with a slap shot through a screen with the Bruins holding a two-man advantage at 13:55, Lucic added his second goal at 17:54, scoring from inside the left circle. Krejci picked up his third assist of the period on the play.
"We wanted to come out hard," Lucic said. "We got the momentum on our side and we just controlled the second and third period."
Richards made it 3-2 with 2:11 left in the second period when he redirected Ryan Parent's long slap shot for his 29th goal.
Recchi reached around Philadelphia defenseman Braydon Coburn to poke in a rebound of a shot by Chuck Kobasew at 4:21 of the third period.
Skating with the extra attacker, Gagne scored on a goalmouth scramble with 1:12 left in the third period to bring the Flyers closer.
Notes: The Flyers recalled RW Andreas Nodl from the Philadelphia Phantoms, their American Hockey League affiliate, to replace LW Riley Cote, who injured a finger during a fight against the New York Islanders on Saturday. ... Flyers G Niittymaki had won both previous starts against Boston this season with a 1.17 goals-against average. ... Philadelphia C Jeff Carter played his 300th NHL game. ... The Bruins and Flyers split the season series 2-2, with the each team winning twice on the road. ... The Bruins return home for their next three games. ... Philadelphia had a season-high 48 shots.