After one of their worst slumps of the season, the Boston Bruins returned home to open a six-game homestand and responded with their highest-scoring performance in more than a month.
The Bruins look to build off the victory Thursday night when they face the Anaheim Ducks, who seek their first three-game win streak in three months.
The Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (41-12-8) have a comfortable nine-point lead over Washington, but began this homestand Tuesday with a 1-4-2 mark in their last seven games - the final five contests coming on the road.
Getting back to TD Banknorth Garden seemed to be what Boston needed as its rolled to a 6-1 victory over Florida.
Rookie fourth-liner Byron Bitz scored twice and Tim Thomas made 24 saves as the Bruins improved to 20-4-4 at home.
Bitz, playing in his 20th game since being recalled from Providence on Jan. 10, entered with one goal in his previous 19 contests.
"He got rewarded for doing the things that we've been kind of preaching for the last little while," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think with confidence and with experience you're going to see him probably score more goals. He demonstrated a little bit of that tonight."
The six goals came after Boston managed only 15 during the 1-4-2 slide and was its highest total since a 6-4 win over Ottawa on Jan. 8.
After routing a contending Florida team, this homestand doesn't get any easier for the Bruins, who play two of the top four teams in the East (Washington and Philadelphia) after facing Anaheim (30-27-5). Next up will be Chicago - the fourth place team in the West - and Phoenix, the only opponent on this homestand with a losing record.
The Ducks opened their six-game trip with a 5-2 loss at Detroit but have rebounded with wins over Columbus and Buffalo.
Todd Marchant ended a 43-game goal drought with a short-handed score and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 34 shots in Anaheim's 3-2 victory over the Sabres on Tuesday.
The Ducks will be looking to win three straight for the first time since a four-game winning streak Nov. 22-30. They are in a four-way tie with Minnesota, Dallas and Edmonton for the final two playoff spots in the West. All four teams have 65 points.
Anaheim's chase for the postseason makes the health of leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf all the more important. Getzlaf was bleeding from the nose in the dressing room following Tuesday's game after being struck across the face following a collision in the final seconds. There was no word on his condition.
Teemu Selanne is optimistic about the remainder of the Ducks' road trip, which ends March 3 in Chicago. Anaheim has missed the playoffs only once in the last five seasons.
"I said earlier that this is going to be the turning point in our season and I'm expecting a lot," Selanne said. "I have 100 percent trust in this team and I'm sure we're on the right track."
Selanne has four goals and seven points in his last five games. He has a point in all eight contests he's played in Boston, collecting nine goals and eight assists. This is his first time playing there since 2002.
The Ducks made a move Thursday when they acquired defenseman Ryan Whitney from Anaheim for forward Chris Kunitz and junior prospect Eric Tangradi.
The Ducks beat the Bruins 2-1 in Anaheim in the teams' only meeting last season. The Bruins won 4-3 in overtime on Jan. 16, 2006, in their last home game against the Ducks.
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