Bruins

Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs

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Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs

MONTREAL Over the last couple of games Tim Thomas has given a firm reminder to any absent-minded hockey followers just how good he can be.

The Bruins goaltender has backstopped the Bruins to a pair of shutouts in his last two games, and stole his first game of the season when he made 32 saves against the Canadiens in a 1-0 victory for the Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Thomas was good throughout, but at his best in the third period when he stopped 14 shots and became Bostons best penalty killer amid a flurry of Habs power-play chances. Guys named Cammalleri, Gionta and Pacioretty were buzzing around all around him, but they were no match for the flawless Bs goaltender.

We played on our heels tonight a little bit, said Claude Julien after watching his Bruins get out-shot by a 32-18 margin. But defensively we werent that bad and Tim Thomas was huge for us making big saves.

It capped off 133:04 of consecutive scoreless ice time for Thomas dating back to a week ago in the third period of a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Guess hes still got it at 37 years old, eh?

Many of us have played with him for quite a few years now, and you get into that rhythm with Thomas where hes stopping pucks and you know where he likes to see the shots from, said Andrew Ference. He looks like hes in that rhythm right now.

There werent any Superman saves with Thomas flying across the crease like a masked superhero, but the 37-year-old was tracking the puck with uncanny precision while plenty of action popped up in front of him.

Thomas was at his best when Montreal sniper Mike Cammalleri tried to find an opening in the third period with the Habs down by just a goal. Thomas stood tall when Scott Gomez attempted to throw a puck into his skates during the first of Benoit Pouliots ill-advised penalties, and he calmly kicked away a Gomez tip of a Cammalleri bomb from the right point.

In the final minute of the third period Thomas swallowed up an Erik Cole shot flipped from the middle slot off a Brian Gionta pass with Max Pacioretty crashing to the front of the net. There was a little bit of luck involved too as Thomas kicked away a bouncing puck in the final seconds with Pacioretty camped out in front of the crease, but unable to control the loose biscuit.

It was all part of Thomas master plan as there were some tough saves sprinkled into his nights work, but he wasnt going to let the Habs see him sweat under his Movember mustache mask. Thomas said after the game hes feeling as good as he has all season, and it looks like hes entering The Zone into which very few goaltenders are allowed admittance.

The Bs goaltender is still fully capable of carrying his hockey club for a stretch at 37 years old, and hes got an offense thats going to get him some ultra-comfortable nights in between the tight, one-goal games.

There were a few through screens that I made look easier than they were, but that was the impression I was trying to give off to Montreal, said Thomas. I wanted to make them feel like they werent close to scoring and it really worked out.

A couple of them ended up in my glove and there was a quick whistle where sometimes they bounce out and it gets a little scrambly. That can get the other team hungry because they feel like theyre close to scoring, but that didnt happen tonight.

With the 32-save shutout in the books, Thomas leads the NHL with three shutouts (hes tied with Jimmy Howard, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick) and sits second with a 1.77 goals against average and third in the league with a .938 save percentage. He looks every bit like the goaltender that captured the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup for only the second time in NHL history last season, and has only the immortal Brian Elliott and Josh Harding sitting in front of him in the traditional goaltending stat categories.

Its likely that the Habs are sick of seeing this movie with Thomas shutting down a flying Montreal attack and handing the Bruins a victory when players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand arent up to their normal capabilities. Its the movie that played all last spring to rave reviews in Boston, and it looks there might just be a sequel in the works for Thomas and Co. in Black and Gold.

Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

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Talking Points: DeBrusk provides energy in win

GOLD STAR: Jake DeBrusk gave the Bruins all kinds of energy out of the starting gate, and made a couple of plays that allowed his team to hold a lead despite getting outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. DeBrusk went hard to the net splitting a couple of San Jose defenders on the first goal, and fired a shot on net that created a rebound for Peter Cehlarik to cash in on. Then DeBrusk scored a little bit later on a rush where he beat Brent Burns in a foot race to a loose puck, then whistled a wrist shot past Aaron Dell for his fourth goal of the season. DeBrusk finished with a goal and two points along with a plus-2 and a team-high four shots on net while falling just short of 16 minutes of ice time in the victory. It was a strong effort from DeBrusk shortly after being a healthy scratch, and showed what he’s capable of when he gets his skating legs going.

BLACK EYE: Brent Burns was a complete mess for the Sharks. He was burnt by Jake DeBrusk in each of the first two Bruins goals in the first period with the B’s rookie going right at him with the attack. He also didn’t make it to the net with 12 of the 16 shots that he attempted and Burns finished with seven giveaways as well. It’s been a rough follow-up season for Burns after last year’s Norris Trophy season where he’s tried to do too much for the Sharks, and his game has suffered as a result. That seemed to be the case for Burns against the Bruins as well where his mistakes played a big role in the Sharks dropping the game.

TURNING POINT: The Bruins won the game when they managed to survive an opening 20 minutes where they were outshot 17-5, and even better they had a 2-1 lead based on some offensive fireworks from Jake DeBrusk. They were also aided by a couple of video reviews where the Bruins took a San Jose goal off the board when it was ruled that a crashing Joonas Donskoi punched a puck into the net with his glove. The Peter Cehlarik goal was also upheld at the other end after a challenge from the San Jose bench. It looked like DeBrusk was tripped before he partially crashed into Aaron Dell that set up the Cehlarik goal, and that’s clearly how the referees saw it after reviewing the play.

HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be Anton Khudobin, who stopped 36-of-37 shots and improved to 5-0-2 on the season with another strong win aided by a stalwart defensive effort in front of him. Khudobin now has 12 of the 20 points that the Bruins have amassed on the season, and he absolutely rewarded the B’s for opting to go with the Bruins backup for a second game in a row as they ride the hot goaltender. Khudobin was helped by a number of Bruins blocked shots in the third period when the game was still very tight, but it was also about Khudobin coming up with 16 saves in the first period when the Bruins were getting outplayed by the Sharks.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 – the number of Bruins rookies that have scored their first NHL goals this season, including Peter Cehlarik finally getting his first NHL score Saturday night in his 14th career game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We need them. They’re in the lineup and they’re playing significant minutes. We need them to produce for us. Tonight we needed some offense early, and they provided it for us.” – Bruce Cassidy, on the role of the rookies in the win where it was all first-year players Peter Cehlarik, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen doing the scoring vs. San Jose. 

Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

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Khudobin stops 36 shots to help Bruins beat Sharks, 3-1

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Anton Khudobin enjoyed getting pestered with shots early. He didn't have time to let his mind wander.

Khudobin stopped 36 shots to lead the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.

"I like it busy," Khudobin said. "I don't have to think about anything else. The third-period start was unbelievable . . . I don't think I faced a shot until halfway through the period."

Peter CehlarikJake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen scored to help the Bruins get their second straight win after a four-game skid (0-3-1). Boston had totaled nine goals in its previous five games, scoring more than two for just the second time in nine November games.

"It went our way," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "They were clearly better than us but we come out 2-1 (in the three games on West Coast). If you stick with it, good things happen."

Khudobin remained unbeaten in regulation (5-0-2) and improved to 4-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average in five games against the Sharks.

Timo Meier scored and Aaron Dell finished with 18 saves for the Sharks, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league. San Jose has been held to two of fewer goals in five of their seven games this month.

"Guys in this room can score; we just have to do it," Sharks Logan Couture said. "I thought we had good chances and a lot of them at the end. We've got to create offense. If you don't score goals, you're not going to win."

Meier gave the Sharks, losers of two straight following wins in six of seven, a short-lived 1-0 lead after tapping in a rebound 4:50 into the game. Daniel O'Regan, making his season debut, won the puck behind the net and skated around to take the shot that bounced to Meier. It was O'Regan's first career assist and second career point.

"I just kind of fished it out and wanted to bring it to the net," O'Regan said. "Timo made a nice finish."

Cehlarik, in his 14th game, scored his first career goal about 1 1/2 minutes later to tie it for the Bruins.

Boston took the lead on DeBrusk's goal with 9:14 left in the first. Charlie McAvoy cleared a puck in his zone that DeBrusk, one of three rookies who scored, chased down and easily beat Dell 1-on-1.

"It's massive," DeBrusk said. "We all want it so bad and we all work so hard. These are big games for us."

Heinen made it 3-1 with 5:51 left in the third. Kevan Miller skated down the ice, drawing all the attention on the right side. He passed across the crease, from where Heinen tapped it in.

"He made a heck of a play," Heinen said. "I just put my stick on the ice."

The Sharks had a goal negated for the second straight game, this one two minutes in.

"We got enough looks tonight to score," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're doing more good than bad we're just not being rewarded."

NOTES: O'Regan was recalled before the game. He's the leading scorer for the Barracuda of the AHL. ... The Sharks have had three consecutive goals reversed after challenges dating to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers. ... Sharks F Joel Ward has recorded points in six of his last eight games. ... DeBrusk, who assisted on Cehlarik's goal, recorded his first multi-point game since Oct. 14, a span of 14 games.

UP NEXT

Bruins: At the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night.

Sharks: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

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