Few teams are as happy about the NHL's decision to use shootouts as the Boston Bruins are.
The Bruins look to keep climbing toward playoff position Monday night when they continue a seven-game road trip against the improving Philadelphia Flyers.
Boston (27-26-4) lost its first two games that went to a shootout this season, but has won eight of nine since. Only Minnesota and Buffalo (nine) have more shootout wins than the Bruins.
Five of Boston's last seven victories have come via the shootout, including Saturday's 4-3 road win over Buffalo, the NHL points leader with 83.
Petr Tenkrat scored the lone goal in the eighth round and Tim Thomas stopped all eight attempts as the Bruins won for the fifth time in seven games despite blowing a two-goal lead.
"It's great to get the win, but it sure is stressful going to all these shootouts," Thomas said. "A win against anybody is big right now. We are trying to get a playoff spot and we needed two points."
Even with the victory, the Bruins remained 12th in the Eastern Conference, eight points behind Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"Beating Buffalo is huge for our confidence, especially on this long trip," said Boston's Marc Savard, who has a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak.
With three games in four nights, Boston backup goalie Hannu Toivonen is expected to start Monday or Tuesday against Toronto. Toivonen, however, has allowed 23 goals during a personal five-game road losing streak.
Center Patrice Bergeron, second on the Bruins with 54 points, missed his second straight game Saturday with a lower body injury. Rookie Phil Kessel took his place at center.
Philadelphia (16-34-8) could still finish with the worst record in franchise history, but has played much better of late. The Flyers have points in nine of their last 12 games (5-3-4), winning three of their last four.
The victory came at a high price, though, as right wing Mike Knuble broke his right cheekbone and right orbital bone in a collision with New York's Brendan Shanahan. Knuble, the team's second-leading scorer with 43 points, is out indefinitely.
"He is going to need surgery for both of those fractures," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We're going to have the surgery delayed a few days until the swelling goes down. He will be re-evaluated again to see where that's at. As soon as the swelling goes down enough he will have the surgery."
The win came in the Flyers' first game following the trade of captain Peter Forsberg, dealt to Nashville on Thursday for Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and two draft picks. Philadelphia had been 0-14-3 this season with Forsberg out of the lineup.
"We've played better after the All-Star break and now the Peter thing is over," Niittymaki said. "We don't have to worry about that anymore. We can just move on."
Savard scored two goals and set up two others in the Bruins' 4-3 home win over the Flyers on Jan. 6.
Boston is 4-1-1 with two ties in its last eight visits to Philadelphia.