Bruins look to stay hot against rival Canadiens

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Montreal (9-2-2) at Boston (9-3-3) 7:00 p.m. EST

BOSTON (Ticker) -- The Boston Bruins are perhaps the hottest

team in the NHL. If the Bruins plan on staying atop the

Northeast Division, however, they will have to take down their

archrival.

The Bruins face a huge test on Thursday when they put their

four-game winning streak on the line against the Montreal

Canadiens.

P.J. Axelsson scored the decisive goal in the third round of the

shootout, lifting Boston to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago

Blackhawks on Wednesday. Marco Sturm scored a power-play goal

in regulation and Tim Thomas made 31 saves for the Bruins, who

improved to 7-1-0 over their last eight games and halted a

seven-game slide in shootouts.

However, if Boston, which is tied with the Buffalo Sabres for

the top spot in the Northeast with 21 points, wants to stay in

first place, it will have to end a 12-game regular season losing

streak to the Canadiens. The Bruins pushed Montreal to seven

games during last season's Eastern Conference quarterfinals but

have not earned a win against their rivals outside the playoffs

since March 3, 2007.

Thomas has won five of his last six starts, but may not be in

goal because he has lost his last eight outings to Montreal,

falling to 4-12-2 with a 3.22 goals-against average lifetime.

He made 25 saves on October 25, but surrendered the lone goal in

the shootout as the Bruins dropped a 4-3 decision to the

Canadiens in their first meeting this season.

Montreal bounced back from a shootout and regulation loss with a

4-0 rout of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday in its most recent

game. Christopher Higgins registered his first career hat trick

and Carey Price stopped 28 shots for his first shutout of the

season and the fourth of his career.

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