BOSTON - Michael Ryder scored the lone goal in the shootout, lifting the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 comeback victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
It was the fifth win in six games - and sixth straight over the past two seasons against Ottawa - for the Bruins, who moved into first place in the Northeast Division after an injury-filled, sluggish start this season.
Ottawa's Milan Michalek forced overtime, scoring his second goal of the game with 19.3 seconds left and the goalie off for an extra attacker.
Ryder also had one of Boston's three power-play goals. Dennis Wideman and David Krejci had the other two for the Bruins, who overcame an early 2-0 deficit.
Daniel Alfredsson scored a goal, set up another and made an outstanding goal-saving defensive play for Ottawa.
The Senators lost just their second in their last six games.
Thomas, starting after missing the previous six games with an undisclosed injury, made 19 saves prior to the shootout. He gave up a goal on the first shot he faced and was showered with a mock cheer when he made an easy glove save after falling behind 2-0.
Elliott stopped 30 shots.
Wideman sent a wrist shot from the middle of the blue line that found its way through a crowd of players and over Elliott's right shoulder to give the Bruins a 3-2 lead midway into the third period, but Michalek slipped a wirst shot by Thomas from in close to send it to overtime.
The Senators jumped ahead 1-0 on their initial shot 4:52 into the opening period when Alfredsson collected a loose puck near the boards, cut inside the left circle and beat Thomas with a wrister stick side. They made it 2-0 on Michalek's power-play goal just under three minutes later.
With Marc Savard off for high-sticking, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron injured his right leg blocking a shot and fell to the ice, creating a 5-on-3 when he had trouble getting up, and Alfredsson passed it from the behind the net to Michalek, who scored with a wrister from the right circle.
Bergeron limped to the locker room, but returned late in the period.
Krejci's goal cut it to 2-1 just 59 seconds into the second when he tucked a backhander under the crossbar.
Boston dominated play in the opening minutes of the second, collecting another half dozen good scoring chances, before Ryder beat Elliott with a wrist shot inside the far post on the to tie it.
Elliott was fortunate to keep the Bruins scoreless in the opening period. Boston's Derek Morris hit the post and Alfredsson made his splendid play when he lunged to poke the puck away from Recchi just as he was about put it into a wide-open net with Elliott caught out of position.
NOTES: It was Thomas' longest inactive stretch since he also missed six games in December 2007 ... Ottawa RW Chris Neil missed his second straight with a left knee injury, while D Anton Volchenkov (right elbow) sat out for the 14th consecutive game ... The Senators opened a five-game trip which will also take them to San Jose (Tuesday), Los Angeles (Thursday), Phoenix (Dec. 5) and Anaheim (Dec. 6).