Tim Thomas to start vs. Bruins on Thursday

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Tomorrow night’s Boston-Florida game will be a special one.

The Panthers have announced that Tim Thomas will return from a four-game absence (groin) and start on Thursday against the Bruins, the team he backstopped to the 2011 Stanley Cup.

Thomas, 39, hasn’t played since allowing two goals on five shots in just over seven minutes of action against Philadelphia last week.

He left with a groin injury, sat out the following four games (during which backup Jacob Markstrom went 1-3-0 and allowed 16 goals) but is now apparently fit enough to participate in what promises to be a compelling game.

Thomas appeared in nearly 400 regular season contests and 50 playoff games for the Bruins, emerging as one of the best netminders in franchise history.

He made four All-Star games and captured two Vezinas, a Jennings and Conn Smythe Trophy — joining Bobby Orr as the only Bruin to ever win playoff MVP.

Related: Thomas won’t talk to media ’til after Bruins-Panthers game (Updated)