BOSTON — Tim Thomas looked like a man focused on teaching an up-and-coming netminder a thing or two about goaltending. But 20-year-old Robin Lehner answered the bell, sending Thomas and the Bruins home with a 1-0 defeat on Tuesday night.
Lehner stopped all 32 shots he faced, outdueling Thomas to pull Ottawa within a point in the Northeast Division standings. The Bruins still have four games in hand, meaning the one-point margin in the standings might not be as slim as it appears, but when your goaltender stops 37 of 38 shots, it's typically a recipe for a win.
Unfortunately for Claude Julien's bunch, that wasn't the case on Tuesday, as the B's simply couldn't solve Lehner.
"Well he stopped all the shots. That's obviously the best thing," Senators head coach Paul MacLean said of his goalie's effort. "I thought he played with composure and gave us a lot of confidence in the way that he played."
Composure is an understatement, as Lehner steered aside a number of shots from the point throughout the course of the game and weathered a Bruins power play in the closing minutes — although the B's offense wasn't able to generate much of an attack on the man advantage.
Across the sheet, Thomas' contributions didn't go unnoticed by his head coach, though, as the veteran was lauded for keeping the Bruins in a game that could have otherwise been worse.
"He was good and he made some saves, you know Timmy's style, and the bottom line is he was making the saves and giving us an opportunity here right till the end," Julien said. "But this point, maybe at the end with that power play and being able to put a sixth attacker, we never got settled in there and I think that's where I wish we could have been a little bit better and had better composure in that time frame."
The lone goal in Tuesday's contest came off the stick of Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson, who extended his point streak to eight games — during which he has 7-11-18 totals. Karlsson is far-and-away the NHL's leading scorer amongst defenseman, notching his 66th point of the season with the goal.
His tally against Thomas on Tuesday came on a slap shot from the point, which the Bruins netminder couldn't get a good read on as it soared through traffic.
"Yeah, I didn't see it," Thomas said of Karlsson's goal. "I barely saw it released and where I saw going was blocker's side. I had to go behind [Daniel] Alfredsson to hopefully make the save, to hopefully hope that it hits me. It actually did knick off of me I believe, unless it was his stick that felt the same way."
The goal came with 5:16 remaining in the first period, and the Bruins picked up their game a bit in the second period and into the third period, when the game opened up in terms of tempo. With Lehner's effort, though, it would have taken a flawless game from Thomas, and the damage had already been done.
Considering Thomas had given up three or more goals in 10 of his last 15 games, and in five of his last seven, it's an effort the Bruins can live with.
On most nights, the B's can overcome one blemish from their goalie. But on Tuesday, the rookie played spoiler.