Bruins host rival Habs aiming for 5th straight win

( - The Boston Bruins and their red-hot offense will try to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games as the B's host the rival Montreal Canadiens in Thursday's clash at TD Garden.

Boston has matched a season high with four straight wins and Claude Julien's club has notched six goals in each of its past three victories. All told, the Bruins are outscoring the opposition by a 21-8 margin during their fourth four-game winning streak of the season.

In order to win five straight for the first time since a six-game run from Feb. 17-March 2 of last season, however, the Bruins will have to solve a Canadiens club that has won four straight in this series. Montreal took the first of four scheduled meetings between the Atlantic Division foes on Dec. 5, earning a 2-1 decision at the Bell Centre.

The Habs also have claimed two in a row and three of the past five encounters in Boston and Montreal recorded a 6-5 shootout victory when the Original Sox clubs last met in Beantown on March 27 of last season.

The Bruins' latest six-goal performance came Tuesday evening against a familiar face, as the Bruins victimized Florida Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas in his return to Boston. The former Bruins backstop gave up six goals on 41 shots in Florida's 6-2 loss at TD Garden.

The 39-year-old Thomas played for Boston for eight seasons (2002-03 & 2005-12), leading the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup while earning the Conn Smythe Trophy. He also won two Vezina Trophies during his tenure with the Bruins and Tuesday marked Thomas' first game in Boston since he left the club after the 2011-12 season.

Milan Lucic had two goals for the Bruins, who hold a four-point lead over Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic.

David Krejci, Zdeno Chara, Reilly Smith and Shawn Thornton also lit the lamp, while Tuukka Rask stopped 28-of-30 shots for the victors.

"Yeah, we score five, six goals a game, you kind of expect to win," Rask said. "I know it's not going to happen every game, but it's good to have that offense going like that. We've been scoring goals because we play our system, not because we're trying to do too much out there, and that's a great sign."

Tuesday's triumph pushed Boston's record at home this season to 20-5-2. The Bruins have won two straight and four of their last five at TD Garden.

Montreal had lost four straight in regulation before recording a 3-0 win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. Carey Price made 36 saves for his third shutout of the season to anchor the Habs to a much-needed victory.

"We played very well defensively tonight," Price said. "We have a lot of guys sacrifice themselves blocking shots."

Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens. Brandon Prust also lit the lamp.

Montreal currently holds the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and moved four points ahead of the Hurricanes in the standings after Tuesday's win. Carolina and Detroit are currently tied for the conference's eighth and final playoff berth.

The Canadiens are on the road for one game before beginning a four-game homestand Saturday against Tampa Bay. Montreal is 13-11-2 as the visiting team this season.

Price will get the start for Montreal tonight and is 17-8-3 with a 2.50 goals against average in 29 career games against the Bruins. Rask expects to get the call for Boston but he is only 2-9-2 with a 2.77 GAA in 14 lifetime appearances against the Habs.