The Bruins took on the Buffalo Sabres tonight for the fifth of six match-ups this season at the TD Garden. Despite having back up goaltender Marty Turco suited up, Tim Thomas got the nod between the pipes with Coach Claude Julien stating:
“Turco is our backup. If he has to go in, he has to go in,” said Claude Julien. “He’s not new to this league. But there’s no doubt I’m talking about making him a starter. I’ll play it by ear.”(CSNNE.com)
Tonight marked Thomas’ seventh straight start in net sporting a 3.69 goals against average and .856 save percentage during the month of March. In a post-game interview Thomas was asked of his high-energy style wearing him down after long stretches of play:
“Let me ask you; Did I look tired in Game 7?”
Tonight Thomas proved to be a strong force, allowing Buffalo to score one goal out of twenty shots faced providing the Bruins with two consecutive wins. Something the Bruins haven’t been able to achieve since mid-January( Jets 1/10 and Canadiens 1/13).
In the first twenty minutes of play the Bruins sported some great tempo and had lots of great two-on-one opportunities. They supported each other in the offensive zone and didn’t have a lot of long passes that they dished in, they only gave each other about eight to ten feet before they would pass giving them a lot more scoring opportunities on Enroth, leading to a 13-6 edge in shots ending the first. However, with just 3:21 remaining, the Bruins would have a bad turnover to which Captain Jason Pominville would capitalize. Chara essentially thought the opportunity was a two-on-one and allowed Pominville some space giving him just enough room to get the shot off short-side high over Thomas’ glove.
During the first intermission, Naoko Funayama of NESN interviewed forward Brian Rolston who stated:
“We’re pretty good on the forecheck, I think we had a lot of good shots and could get more traffic, but we played a pretty good period.”
Heading into the second period, the Bruins would fail to show energy or control like they had in the first period. They allowed themselves to get sloppy in the neutral zone and fall a victim to the neutral zone trap that Buffalo creates. Fortunately for the Bruins, Thomas was ready and brought his A-game tonight, allowing only the Pominville goal through forty minutes of play. The turning point for the Bruins and their fans would come from the newly acquainted Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Tyler Seguin line. Seguin would get a breakaway, spreading from the Buffalo defense and using his speed to his advantage. Between the kid’s speed, Lucic bringing an aggressive game and Krejci setting up plays, they were arguably the best line on the ice tonight. However, the goal that would make the difference in the second would be from the one and only ‘Merlot line,’ as Gregory Campbell got a Hodgson turnover and gave it to a wide open Shawn Thornton who blasted it from just inside the blue line. Campbell got the tip on it and after review it was ruled a good goal, tying the game at one with 1:51 remaining in the second period.
“We gave up 1 or 2 chances in the first period and unfortunately one of them ended up in a goal. . . We weren’t quite playing a perfect game and needed to adjust. This is one of those games that is close and is going to come down to the wire…need to focus on the little things.” -Gregory Campbell (intermission interview with Naoko Funayama)
Early on in the third again, there wouldn’t be much flow, similar to the first two periods. Tim Thomas would come up with a nice save off of Ellis who ripped a quick shot off at the net to which Seguin answers with a blast off the cross bar. The closer the teams would get to their goal, the more careful they would play. The two points tonight was big for both teams as Buffalo was fighting for a playoff position and the Bruins are looking to hold their lead in the Conference over the Ottawa Senators. At 12:56 a forty game goal-less streak would be broken as Johnny Boychuk blasted a shot from the circle that soared short-side over Enroth’s glove, giving the Bruins their first lead of the game. Less than three minutes later Zdeno Chara would create a play from behind Thomas, sending the puck up to Seguin, who was playing deep, onto Lucic who carried it up ice only to pass it across to Krejci to finish off with a perfect finish, giving the Bruins a two-goal advantage. Under the coaching of Claude Julien the Bruins are 30-0-0 when leading by two goals at any point in a game and after tonight, those numbers climb to 31 as Thomas and the rest of his team held on for the 2-points and first consecutive win streak since January 13.