BOSTON – The Boston Bruins leaned on two of their best players to help put a four-game winless streak behind them.
Marc Savard and Zdeno Chara each had a goal and two assists as Boston beat Atlanta 6-4 Wednesday for its second victory in three nights.
The Bruins, who won in Ottawa on Monday night to snap an 0-2-2 run, had goals from Savard, Daniel Paille and Vladimir Sobotka in a 1:08 span of the first period before going on to a rather wild victory.
“Two huge wins before Christmas,” said Boston forward Mark Recchi. “We hit a little bump there but we’ve showed character the last two games.”
Savard had all three of his points on the power play as Boston hung on after letting Atlanta back in the game.
“I don’t think we were on top of our game defensively,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, whose team is playing without two of its top six defencemen. “What was important was we found a way to win.”
The wins over both Ottawa and Atlanta came against teams the Bruins are battling with in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bruins, on an 0-for-13 power-play drought coming in, scored three power-play goals, two of them in 5-on-3 situations.
Boston had leads of 3-0 and 5-2, but a two-goal rally by Atlanta, the second goal by Ilya Kovalchuk with 4:52 left, made it close. Patrice Bergeron hit the empty net with 3.5 seconds left.
The win was Boston’s eighth in a row over the Thrashers, who haven’t beaten the Bruins since Dec. 29, 2007.
The Thrashers, opening a seven-game road swing (two of the games in Boston), have lost three straight games.
“At the 10-minute mark, we let down for about a minute there and we got a little discombobbled and they scored a couple of quick goals,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said.
Savard scored to start the scoring at 9:44 of the first period before Paille and Sobotka connected 20 seconds apart to chase goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who allowed three goals on eight shots.
The Thrashers rallied on goals by Bryan Little and Maxin Afinogenov (one goal, two assists) in a 3-2 first period, but Chara scored during a two-man advantage early in the second period on a setup from Savard.
Savard then assisted on Michael Ryder’s 5-on-3 score in the third period.
Anderson was upset at a goalie interference call against Colby Armstrong, who appeared to have been dumped on top of Tim Thomas by defenceman Johnny Boychuk, that wiped out what would have a tying goal and led to the 5-on-3 that gave the Bruins the 4-2 lead.
“I don’t know where Armstrong was supposed to go there,” Anderson said. “He’s going out in front of the net and the guy drives him into his own goalie. We pick up the puck and score. That’s a game-changing call. I just don’t understand the rule right now, I guess. I agree with protect the goalie but you still have to play the game.”
Evander Kane, who scored the disallowed goal, scored with 6:02 left for Atlanta, and Kovalchuk then connected.
Dennis Wideman added two assists for the Bruins.
Savard, stationed in the circle to the right of Pavelec, took a pass from Chara, waited for the goalie to drop down and fired the puck high into the net for his first goal in seven games.
Paille and Sobotka – playing in his 100th NHL game – then both scored on short tap-ins as Pavelec was lifted in favour of Johan Hedberg. Recchi set up Paille’s fourth of the year and Shawn Thornton did the same for Sobotka’s fourth.
The offensive-minded Thrashers came right back as Little and Afinogenov scored 2:44 apart, Afinogenov assisting on Little’s slapper that found its way through Thomas – while Kovalchuk set up Afinogenov with a nifty pass – Kovalchuk extending his points streak to eight straight games.
NOTES: The Thrashers will be back in Boston next Wednesday night. … Bruins coach Claude Julien ran his 200th game behind the Boston bench. He’s 112-59-29. … Thornton had gone 14 straight games without a point, but has three assists in the last five. … Kovalchuk has five goals and seven assists during his streak. … Bruins left wing Milan Lucic, out since Nov. 25 with a high ankle sprain, is skating and hopes to play as early as the Jan. 1 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, if not soon after.