Thomas, Lucic help Bruins upend Flyers

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Boston Bruins are gradually returning
to their midseason 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.

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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

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