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Six weeks ago, the Boston Bruins used a victory over the Ottawa Senators to turn themselves into the hottest team in the NHL.
The Bruins are still on a roll and may be getting captain Zdeno Chara back, and they'll try to maintain their momentum by continuing their dominance over the Senators on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place.
Boston (19-9-1) started slowly in defense of its Stanley Cup title, dropping seven of its first 10 games.
The Bruins began to reverse their fortunes by ending a three-game slide with a 5-3 home win over Ottawa (14-13-4) on Nov. 1. That was the first of 10 consecutive victories and triggered a 16-2-1 stretch that moved them to the top of the Northeast Division.
After consecutive losses to Winnipeg and Florida, Boston has rebounded with wins over Columbus and Los Angeles. Brad Marchand scored twice in Tuesday's 3-0 victory over the slumping Kings.
Now, Chara is expected to travel to Ottawa and his return appears to be close after sitting out Tuesday's victory due to a left knee injury sustained in a 5-3 win at Columbus on Saturday.
Chara, who had a power-play goal against the Blue Jackets, leads Bruins defensemen with six goals and 13 assists.
Boston, however, has enjoyed so much success against Ottawa that the team could easily give Chara another day to heal.
The Bruins have won 17 of the last 21 meetings overall, and are 9-1-0 in the past 10 visits to Ottawa, winning six straight there by a combined 19-6 score.
Tim Thomas had 23 saves against the Senators last month, and is 10-1-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average and three shutouts in 12 starts since.
He's 15-3-0 with a 1.53 GAA and five shutouts in his past 18 meetings with Ottawa, winning all seven on the road with a 1.26 GAA.
His six career shutouts versus the Senators doubles his total against any other opponent.
Thomas is slated to be back in net after being rested in favor of backup Tuukka Rask, who stopped all 41 shots Tuesday.
"It's something every team wishes they had, that luxury with two guys. And we have that," coach Claude Julien said.
The Senators had a season-high six-game winning streak halted in the last meeting with the Bruins.
Jared Cowen's goal 45 seconds into overtime lifted Ottawa to a 3-2 victory at Buffalo on Tuesday and snapped a three-game slide. The win may have come at a high price with left wing Milan Michalek leaving in the second period after colliding with teammate Erik Karlsson.
Michalek, who scored his NHL-leading 19th goal Tuesday, will be examined Wednesday.
"He's a big cog to our team," center Jason Spezza said. "He's a guy that works hard and makes a difference."
Spezza leads the Senators with 30 points, getting seven assists in the last six games. He has just two assists and a minus-5 rating in the past six meetings with Boston.
Craig Anderson figures to be in net after his 27-save performance against the Sabres. He's 1-5-0 with a 4.08 GAA against the Bruins, stopping 36 of 41 shots last month.
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