Bruins-Ducks Preview

The Associated Press

The Boston Bruins have snapped out of a funk while also ending their woes on the road, shifting the focus to extending their Northeast Division lead before defending their Stanley Cup in the postseason.

That doesn't mean the Anaheim Ducks are about to back down.

The Bruins look to avoid a fourth straight loss to the Ducks when the teams meet Sunday night in Anaheim.

Boston (43-28-3) leads second-place Ottawa by three points in the Northeast after ending a four-game road losing streak with a 4-2 win over Los Angeles on Saturday.

The Bruins lost six of eight from March 3-15, but since have won three of four while outscoring opponents 16-6 during that stretch. They also head into Sunday's action with a three-point lead on Florida for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Chris Kelly scored his 19th goal in Saturday's victory, and he's one shy of giving Boston six players with at least 20 goals in the same season for the first time since 1995-96.

Brad Marchand had a goal and an assist, and Tim Thomas finished with 40 saves.

''That's what's necessary,'' Thomas said. ''We don't have maybe the superstar snipers like some teams have, so we need that balanced scoring and a well-rounded attack to be successful. Last year in the Cup run, if you look at who was scoring some very important goals for us, it wasn't always the names that you'd think."

Boston, though, has lost three straight to the Ducks, who won 3-0 on Dec. 20, 2010, behind a 45-save effort from Jonas Hiller in the most recent matchup.

Hiller made 35 saves in a 4-3 win over St. Louis on Wednesday, helping Anaheim (32-32-11) to its second straight win.

The Ducks' rough start to the season led to the firing of former coach Randy Carlyle on Dec. 1 and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau.

After taking time to get used to the new system, they have gone 22-10-5 since Jan. 5, and Boudreau said his team will continue to play hard no matter the situation.

''I don't think at any point we've just thrown in the towel,'' Boudreau said. ''(This game) is the same as the season. We were dead and buried in December and January, (but) we're still not eliminated yet. We're just going to keep playing as hard as we can, and hopefully win the last seven games.''

Ryan Getzlaf had two assists Wednesday to give him seven over his last five games, and he said the Ducks are playing as if they have nothing to lose.

''All we've done in the second half is try to start a new season, and go from there,'' Getzlaf said. ''We knew what we were in front of, but we don't care who we're playing. It's just about getting as many wins as we can in the time we have left.''

Hiller has won each of his three career starts against Boston with a 1.33 goals-against average and will be in net Sunday, though it's unclear who will start for the Bruins.

It's unlikely Thomas will make starts on back-to-back nights, meaning Marty Turco may get his second start with regular backup Tuukka Rask still nursing a lower-body injury.

Boston's last win in the series was a 35-save, 6-0 shutout by Thomas on Feb. 26, 2009.

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