The Boston Bruins gave their fans a nice gift tonight: a 6-4 win over the Atlanta Thrashers just before Christmas.
Dwayne Roloson, John Tavares and the New York Islanders gave them another one with a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Nassau Coliseum .
First, to Boston: The Thrashers and goalie Ondrej Pavelec gave up three goals in the span of 1:08 in the first period to give the B's a 3-0 lead (Marc Savard, Daniel Paille and Vladimir Sobotka were the culprits). After the starter got the hook, Atlanta cut it to 3-2 with a pair of quick strikes from Bryan Little and Maxim Afinogenov.
The B's got a 5-0n-3 goal from the captain Big Zdeno Chara (only his third on the year) to reestablish the two-goal lead in the second, and when Michael Ryder scored on another two-man advantage in the third period to make it 5-2, the B's looked to be cruising. But, Atlanta responded with goals from rookie Evander Kane and captain Ilya Kovalchuk just 1:10 apart to cut the lead to one.
Patrice Bergeron put it out of reach with an empty-netter (his 10th) in the waning seconds to send the TD Garden faithful home happy.
The Leafs got bupkus from Phil Kessel in their game, which isn't all that surprising, as he'll go through his peaks and valleys like any other player. But. the win was big for the Isles, who move one point ahead of Toronto, who now sits in the 27th-spot of the NHL standings and squandered yet another chance to earn points against a team below them.
Scoreboard watchers were also rewarded with the aforementioned Leafs failure, plus losses by Buffalo (to Washington) and Ottawa (chasing Boston for second place in the Northeast Division).
The B's have cut Buffalo's lead to four points (with a game in hand), and built their lead over Ottawa to three with two days off for Christmas.
The eggnog should be flowing freely in Bruins households this week- they followed up a nice road win in Ottawa by holding on to add two more points to their warchest before a brief, but well-earned respite.
UPDATE- The Flyers closed out the 'Bolts 5-2, so they close to within one point of Toronto. The Broadstreeters also help Boston with that draft pick, which would be 37th overall if the season ended today. So- between Toronto and Tampa, the B's are looking at 33rd and 37th overall for a few more days at least.