TORONTO - The Bruins haven't secured a playoff berth yet, but after their 6-2 win over Toronto on Tuesday, at least one Boston player feels as if they pushed the Maple Leafs out of the post-season picture.
"I think so," said Bruins left winger Milan Lucic, who had two assists in Boston's crucial victory. "But in saying that, we've still got a lot of work to do. Washington won tonight, so they're still right up behind us (in the race for a playoff spot).
"We've got to keep winning, separate ourselves from the ninth-place team, and try to move up in the standings."
The Bruins' win temporarily pushed Boston past Philadelphia and into seventh overall in the Eastern Conference. But the Flyers beat the Rangers in overtime to keep the Bruins in the eighth overall spot in which they began the day.
However, the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers also lost Tuesday, leaving the ninth-place Capitals, who remain two points behind Boston, as arguably the only serious rival to unseat the Bruins.
And because of that fact, goalie Tim Thomas is starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel after his team's up-and-down season.
"When our backs have been up against the wall, we haven't come through every time, but we've came through quite a few times," said Thomas, who stopped 28 of Toronto's 30 shots in the win. "We just did a pretty good job of taking it to (the Leafs). Not so much as running them out of the building physically or anything, but just playing our game and keeping them on their heels."
Already without Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard for the game, Boston lost Chuck Kobasew to a leg injury in the first period. But the Bruins' crew of youngsters and gritty forwards didn't appear to miss their more talented offensive players, a fact left winger Shawn Thornton points to as a reason for their success throughout the season.
"The guys that have stepped in (due to injuries) have done a really great job," Thornton said. "We've won by committee, and the guys that have stepped in and got extra minutes haven't let anyone down."