While the Atlanta Thrashers were busy trading away Marian Hossa at the NHL's trade deadline, the Boston Bruins were not an interested buyer.
Instead, they were running off their longest winning streak in more than four years without any outside help.
The Bruins will look to win their sixth consecutive game and earn at least a point for the eighth straight time on Saturday when they host the Thrashers, who are quickly fading from the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.
|The Bruins have earned at least one point in their last seven games and will look to continue their playoff push against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Despite their position as a playoff contender in the crowded East, the Bruins (34-23-6) had no part in any of the 24 trades that were made on Tuesday before the NHL's deadline.
Since then, they've outscored two of the East's top contenders 9-1 in a pair of victories, extending their longest winning streak since they won six in a row in January and February of 2004. They are 6-0-1 in the last seven.
"Players believe in this hockey club," Bruins coach Claude Julien said after his team beat Pittsburgh 5-1 on Thursday. "Guys in the dressing room are happy to remain together."
Ironically, Hossa injured his knee in his debut after being traded to the Penguins, and Marco Sturm scored twice in the first period to lead Boston's offensive outburst.
Sturm is one of three Bruins with an active streak of six consecutive games with at least a point, as he, Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard have combined for 10 goals and 17 assists in the last six games.
Even David Krejci has scored his first two NHL goals in the last two contests after starting his career with 41 straight games without a goal.
The Bruins have scored at least four goals in each of the last four games, including a 4-0 win over Ottawa on Tuesday. Goalie Tim Thomas has stopped 49 of 50 shots in the last two games.
"We figured out we're a simple team. We're not pretty, and you could even call us ugly," defenseman Aaron Ward said. "But you have to have your niche in the league, and we do."
Boston is hoping to carve out its niche near the top of the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are tied for sixth place in the East with the New York Rangers, but only trail the Northeast Division-leading Senators by four points, with two games in hand.
The Thrashers (29-31-5) have fallen to 14th in the East, and are now eight points behind Carolina in the Southeast Division after losing five in a row.
Though they traded Hossa - their second-leading scorer - and Pascal Dupuis to the Penguins for younger players on Tuesday, general manager and interim coach Don Waddell insists they haven't given up on making the playoffs.
"We've got 18 games left," Waddell said. "We need to have a good run, there's no doubt about it. But if we were just packing it in for the season we would have looked at it much differently, maybe we could have gotten a couple more first-round picks."
If Atlanta is going to make a move, it may have to turn things around soon. The Thrashers' fifth straight loss was a 5-4 overtime defeat against the New York Islanders on Thursday, as they tied the game with less than two minutes left in regulation to push the game to overtime.
But their defense has faltered recently, allowing 22 goals during the five-game skid. Goalie Kari Lehtonen has played all five games, with a 4.43 goals-against average over that span.
The Thrashers have also lost four straight and seven of nine on the road. They lost 5-2 in Boston on Dec. 31, and have dropped two of three to the Bruins this season.