Thomas turns it around against Rangers

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Thomas turns it around against Rangers

NEW YORK Tim Thomas never backs down from a challenge, but the 37-year-old goaltender also always knows when hes facing one.

So Thomas certainly knew he was 2-6-1 over the course of his career at Madison Square Garden heading into Sunday nights meaningful game against the New York Rangers, and that Henrik Lundqvist has had the better of him in their head-to-head matchups.

So it all became fuel to Thomas fire heading into a game with the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on the table, and Thomas finished with a 33-save gem in a 2-1 victory over the Rags at Madison Square Garden.

It looked shaky early when the Rangers turned a Zdeno Chara slap shot off Jordan Carons leg into a Marian Gaborik partial breakaway goal that Thomas couldnt stop when the shot came in low. But that was it for a determined Thomas, who put up the wall following that first goal allowed.

This is a tough building to play in. Its dark. There are funny bounces all over the place. Plus theyre a good team and they play solid hockey, said Thomas. I felt pretty good, so from my own perspective I just wanted to stay focused and keep playing the way I was. So I just wanted to keep it going, and as things went on in the third I just wanted to make sure took it in regulation. I didnt want to play in overtime.

Im starting to see the puck in traffic and find it, and I think thats important. Im getting to where I need to be.

Instead Dennis Seidenberg fired a one-timer past Lundqvist after a quick Patrice Bergeron screen in front of the net, and Bergeron managed to squirt a puck through the Swedes pads on a hard-working power play in the second period.

That was all Thomas would need while making 15 saves in the third period, and standing up everything the Rangers could throw at them. It was clear New York finally started getting discouraged at the end of the third period when Ryan Callahan floated a floating, weak shot at Thomas with the Bs goaltender far out of the net without his stick.

It was a panic move in a 2-1 game with Bostons goaltender down and out of the play, but thats what Thomas can do to demoralize an opponent when hes at his puck-stopping best.

He was clearly at that against the Rags on Sunday, and Claude Julien pointed to a big right pad save on a hard-charging Marc Staal as one that everybody celebrated from the bench with a giant exhale.

The biggest thing for me was to come in and play a good, solid game and I thought we did, said Claude Julien. He saved his best for the end. Theres no doubt about that. We were looking at it from the bench and thought one of those pucks was going in, but he kicked it out. I thought was the save of the night. For two periods we did a good job in front of him, but they were a desperate team in the third trying to do anything they could to tie it up.

It was important for Thomas psyche to get a win at Madison Square Garden and beat Lundqvist this season after a few failed attempts, and now they have with both teams looking forward to a potential showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas will have to stop a lot of pucks between now and then, but hes looked up for it while going 5-1-1 in his tending turnaround over the last two weeks.

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

Pastrnak's two goals lead Bruins past Panthers, 4-3

BOSTON – The Bruins are undefeated this season when they manage to cobble together three goals in a game. 

It took a little extra as David Pastrnak knifed through former BC defenseman Mike Matheson in overtime for his second goal of the game, and his 15th of the season, to take a 4-3 win over the Panthers at TD Garden. 

It was thought the final offensive push they needed took place in the third period when Ryan Spooner hopped on the David Krejci line with David Backes, and fired a shot at the Boston net that Backes redirected through Roberto Luongo for his seventh of the season. 

But the Panthers tied it up on a Demers goal late in the third period, and that set up Pastrnak’s brilliant one-on-one move for the game-winner for the Black and Gold. 

The Bruins led off the scoring on a nice play by Tim Schaller winning a battle to enter the Florida zone, and then circling around behind the net before burying a one-timer from the slot as he crashed the net to connect with a David Krejci dish headed straight his way. 

The Panthers tied it a period later when the legend, Jaromir Jagr, buried a chance from the slot after his line had hemmed in the David Krejci line and Torey Krug/Adam McQuaid pairing for an extended shift in the Boston zone. It was goal No. 754 of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career as he continues to go strong for the Panthers, and it also tied the game 1-1. 

The Bruins looked like they might haven the lead for good on David Pastrnak’s 14th goal of the season, but it wasn’t mean to be. Pastrnak started it all by protecting a puck and retaining possession from his knees in the corner of the offensive zone. Eventually Patrice Bergeron fired a puck wide of the net, and Brad Marchand unleashed a spinning, no-look pass to a waiting Pastrnak for the easy score past Roberto Luongo. 

The Panthers tied it a second time in the third period when Reilly Smith stripped a puck from Patrice Bergeron going up the center of the ice, and eventually it found its way to Aleksander Barkov for a ripped shot from long distance for his fourth goal of the season. 

Then Florida tied it again in the final minutes of the third on a Jason Demers rebound bid after Mike Matheson’s shot went wide of the net and took a wild carom off the end boards in the exact opposite direction. 

Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

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Halftime stars, studs and duds: Celtics struggling with three-pointers

You knew the 3-point shots were going to be flying all game long when the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets tipped off Monday night. 
 
Now whether they would go in, that’s another matter entirely. 
 
Boston’s struggles with knocking down the long ball played a pivotal role in them going into the half trailing the Houston Rockets, 58-48.
 
Houston, the NBA’s leader in three-pointers made (14.0) and taken (37.0), were 8-for-21 in the first half on 3s while the Celtics were a not-so-impressive 5-for-18.
 
Despite the shooting struggles, Boston managed to lead 37-36 after a driving lay-up by Jaylen Brown. 
 
But the Rockets had too much firepower and when they weren’t knocking down shots, they were getting to the free throw line where there 18-for-20 compared to Boston which was just 1-for-2.
Here are the first half Stars, Studs and Duds from Monday’s game. 

 

STARS
 
James Harden

The MVP candidate was bringing it all areas, scoring 21 points to go with seven assists. But he was far from perfect, evident by his six turnovers. 
 
Isaiah Thomas

He led the Celtics with 11 points, but looks to be growing frustrated with the lack of calls going the Celtics’ way. Near the end of the second quarter, Thomas was grimacing while holding his right groin. But it didn’t appear to be too big a deal as he hit a 3-pointer just moments later. But it’s worth keeping an eye on in the second half. 
 

STUDS
 
Jaylen Brown

He gave Boston a surprisingly strong lift off the Celtics bench. At the half, he had seven points which included a lay-up that put Boston ahead 37-36.

Trevor Ariza

He doesn’t get a ton of attention, but Ariza’s play has been one of the keys to Houston’s success this season. At the half he had 10 points and six rebounds.

 

DUDS
 
Jonas Jerebko

He got the start tonight, but looks nothing like the high-energy, impact player he has been of late while coming off the bench. He was scoreless in the first half while missing all three of his shot attempts.