(Sports Network) - A pair of division leaders from opposing conference will meet tonight in Boston, as the Bruins welcome the Dallas Stars for a battle at TD Garden.
Boston and Dallas each have 65 points on the year and the clubs are leading the Northeast and Pacific Divisions, respectively. The Bruins are two points ahead of Montreal for first place, while the Stars are five up on the Sharks and Ducks.
Tonight's tilt marks the start of a four-game homestand for the Bruins, who are 13-9-3 as the host this year and have won four of their last six on home ice.
Boston's first game after the All-Star break came Tuesday evening in Carolina. Tim Thomas stopped 24-of-26 shots and Patrice Bergeron, the NHL's First Star for the month of January, notched the winning goal during a two-goal burst in the third period as the Bruins clipped the Hurricanes, 3-2, at RBC Center.
"We just found a way to win against a team that's trying to get a playoff spot," Thomas said. "They played good, and we played pretty good defensively. We went into the third and found a way to win."
Thomas has outstanding career numbers in three games against the Stars, going 2-0-1 with while allowing a total of two goals on 101 shots.
Daniel Paille and Nathan Horton also hit the net for the Bruins, who began their post All-Star slate with their eighth win in 11 contests.
The Stars were also in action on Tuesday, but Marc Crawford's club was dealt a 4-1 loss by the visiting Vancouver Canucks, who have outscored Dallas by a 15-3 margin in three meetings this season.
Loui Eriksson lit the lamp for the Pacific Division-leading Stars, who have dropped three out of four contest following a five-game winning streak. Kari Lehtonen allowed four goals on 26 shots in defeat.
"We've got to take responsibility for not jumping on the opportunities that we had," said Crawford.
The Stars have played their last two games without Jamie Benn and the forward's shoulder injury is expected to keep him out again tonight. The second-year winger has 13 goals and 33 points in 46 games this season.
Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric missed the last game with an illness and is questionable for tonight.
The Stars are playing the first of two straight on the road tonight and will also visit Philadelphia on Saturday. Dallas is 14-9-1 as the guest this year, but has lost two straight away from Big D.
The Bruins and Stars last met on Oct. 16 of last season in Dallas and Boston notched a 3-0 victory behind a shutout from Thomas. Boston has taken two straight and four of six overall in the series.