Thomas' 20-save shutout steals Kessel's show

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Thomas' 20-save shutout steals Kessel's show

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Kessel-Mania VII headlined the coming attractions before Thursday night's game between the Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs.

But it was Tim Thomas who stole the show with his second shutout of the season in Boston's 2-0 win over Phil Kessel's Leafs at the TD Garden.

Kessel finished the game with a game-high six shots on net, but had nothing to show for it. In seven games against his former team, Kessel has zero goals and only one assist, and after his minus-1 showing on Thursday night is a minus-7 against the B's in his career.

His reaction?

"I had some good chances tonight," said Kessel after the game. "I just couldn't bury them.

"I had chances again tonight. It's not like I didn't have chances. It just didn't go in. What can you do?"

Not much you can do with the puck on your stick and Thomas in net for the Bruins this season.

Thomas is now 5-0 with a league-leading goals-against average of 0.60. It's the best start for a Bruins goaltender since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.

Coach Claude Julien has gone on record, several times, to say that the team doesn't have a No. 1 goalie; it has two No. 1's. But after Tuukka Rask's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday, Thomas' 20-save performance -- which included killing off all five Toronto power plays -- in a big bounceback win for the Bruins on Thursday night, has to make Thomas the team's go-to 'tender until he begins to struggle.

Julien would never tell you that, of course. But he did have a ton of praise for the way Thomas shut down the Maple Leafs.

"Solid again," said Julien after the win. "I think we can't say enough about the way he's played. And what I liked about his game, too, is they had some shots from the point, and he did a great job of not giving up any rebounds. He kept those inside him, and I thought he did a great job at smuggling those loose pucks. He was just solid, challenging, and confident.

"I think if anything, he was as solid as can be," added Julien. "Tuukka played the game before, and you can say, well, Thomas skipped a game there, let's see how he comes out tonight. And he came out the same way he had when he played his last game. So it's great to see him do that. And again, when you've got a goaltender playing that well, it certainly gives you a great chance to win hockey games.

"In the first period, we were maybe not as good as we would have liked, but a guy like him keeps you in a game."

Thomas can't find one specific aspect of his game that's working best. But on Thursday night, his rebound prevention was as good as it's ever been.

And it needed to be that way. With Patrice Bergeron giving the Bruins a 1-0 lead with 41 seconds left in the first period, and Tyler Seguin making it 2-0 with 7:34 in the second, one measly Toronto goal could have changed the game.

It's these types of games in which shutouts are needed for the win. And that's exactly what Thomas gave the B's on Thursday.

"I feel good, it's fun to play," said Thomas. "The reality is, we had a 2-0 lead, I couldn't afford to give Toronto a goal, because I didn't want to let them think they're back in the game.

"It was easier to focus on the shutout tonight, because it was necessary for the win, I think.

"I feel, obviously, that I'm playing good," added Thomas. "The team's playing very well in front of me. They're really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking them out of screens. I mean, Dennis Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight. So that's making it very helpful."

And for Kessel-Mania?

"As far as Phil Kessel goes, we're not thinking about that," said Thomas. "We're thinking about the two points, and we needed the win. We needed to bounce back, especially after a loss, so we're not thinking of individuals like that. At least, I'm not."

Kessel probably can't say the same about Thomas.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

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Talking points: Patrice Bergeron is best player on ice in Bruins' win

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars where Patrice Bergeron scored two goals.

Patrice Bergeron scores 2, Bruins beat Stars, 6-3, to end winning trip

Patrice Bergeron scores 2, Bruins beat Stars, 6-3, to end winning trip

Patrice Bergeron had two goals and an assist as the Boston Bruins beat the Dallas Stars 6-3 Sunday, improving to 6-1 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

The Bruins completed a 3-1 road trip.

Stars captain Jamie Benn and Boston forward David Backes began fighting just 2 seconds into the game and drew major penalties. They have a history between - this was the first time they've faced each other this season, and it was the third straight year they've fought.

The Stars had tied the game in the second period after trailing 2-0. But Frank Vatrano and Bergeron scored on deflections 40 seconds apart in the second, and Bergeron added his 16th goal of the season in the third period.

Brad Marchand, David Krejci scored in the first period for the Bruins. Marchand had two assists and Torey Krug had three assists.

John Klingberg and Jiri Hudler had second-period goals for Dallas, and Tyler Seguin scored in the third.

Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask had 33 saves.

Kari Lehtonen made 22 saves for Dallas. Three of Boston's goals came on deflections.

Vatrano deflected Kevan Miller's drive from the right point through traffic past Lehtonen to break a 2-2 tie in the second. Bergeron and Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn became tangled in front of Lehtonen on the Bruins' fourth goal.

Marchand scored from the left faceoff circle at 5:56 of the first period after taking a pass from behind the net from Bergeron.

Dallas made it 2-all on the first power play of the game. Hudler scored on a snap shot at 11:49 of the second.

Boston regained a two-goal lead less than 4 minutes later when Vatrano and Bergeron scored at 14:41 and 15:21.

NOTES: Dallas D Johnny Oduya returned after missing 15 games because of an ankle injury. . Miller and Dallas LW Curtis McKenzie also fought in the second period. . Marchand has 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. . Krejci has eight points (three goals, five assists) in his past seven games. . Krug has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in seven career games against the Stars. . Hudler has 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 14 career games vs. Boston. . The visiting team has won the last seven games between the teams, dating back to 2013-14.

UP NEXT

Bruins: Begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday against Arizona.

Stars: Play the fourth of five straight home games vs. Pittsburgh on Tuesday.